Meet Gatebox – The virtual home robot
So Gatebox has brought out a challenger in the home assistant market, only this one is more than just a voice controlled home assistant that looks like a speaker, it’s a 3D hologram that sits in a tube and takes on the role of virtual companion as well as virtual assistant.
The You tube video is well worth a watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkcKaNqfykg. It has to be one of the saddest adverts I have ever seen for a connected home technology.
Most companies promise the hope of a brighter future where the connected home is an enabler to a better more engaged home life. Kids are cooking with mum having shared a recipe via the connected fridge, the washing is no longer a cause of marital strife as the smart washing machine is taking care of, and everyone is safe and secure as they can see who is at the door and then let them in with a touch of a button on their smartphone. The connected technology is making us feel more secure, and enhancing our lives by making things that little bit easier, giving us more time to do the things we love with the people we love.
Not so with the Gatebox. Unlike other home assistants on the market like Amazon Echo or Google Home, Gatebox is also a hologram. Which in the case of the ad put out by the manufacturer appears to be this poor soul’s only form of meaningful human contact throughout his miserable day.
Here we are told the story of a young, single man whose life revolves around getting up, going to work, then coming back to his flat at night to watch TV alone in the dark before turning in for the night to do it all over again the next day. His only companion throughout the day is his virtual home assistant. Not only does she give advice like ‘take an umbrella today’ as it looks like rain, she takes on the role of loving wife or girlfriend, texting him at different points in the day to ‘come home early’, or responding excitedly to his messages when he says he’s on his way home. After a night of watching TV alone we end on the depressing scene of our lonely protagonist calling it a night, and just as he is turning off the lights to go to sleep in a his single bed saying ‘You know, while I was on my way home, I thought—it feels great that someone’s waiting for me’.
Whilst this could easily be dismissed as a somewhat faddish piece of kit, it’s $2500 price point and the fact it has sold out already (although it is currently only available in Japan) points to the fact that technology of this nature can play an increasingly meaningful role in people’s lives in the future.
We’re more connected than ever, yet it would seem we have never been more lonely. Products like Gatebox are stepping in to fill the void and provide products and services that cater to our need to feel human connection. And whilst the idea of a virtual home assistant hologram sounds cool and fun, you can’t help but watch this ad and be left with overwhelming sense of sadness at this young man’s need for a holographic girlfriend to fill the obvious emotional void in his life.