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Working from home is a big adjustment for employees who aren’t used to the practice. The lack of a morning commute, interactions with others, hitting the coffee shop, or chatting with coworkers in between assignments can hit us acutely if we’re not ready for it. One Japanese virtual assistant company, Gatebox Inc, has an idea for a solution.
Future of Sex explains that Azuma Hikari is one of many anime wife characters that can serve as a digital assistant to those working remotely. Perhaps lacking the sophistication of other virtual aids, Azuma Hikari is essentially a paper doll affixed to a speaker similar to Amazon’s Alexa. Once she has your work schedule, your anime assistant will help you wake up, get motivated, and even remind you when it’s time for lunch. She’ll also let loose with sycophantic phrases during the workday. Praising your hard work, reminding you of meetings, and generally offering feel-good messages and encouragement.
Gatebox developed this tech to help employees with the emotional impact of working in isolation. Why they chose to make her a wife rather than a girlfriend, mistress, friend, sibling, or coworker is anyone’s guess. Perhaps “wife” connotes a stronger sense of security and permanence at a time when everything feels in constant flux.
Gatebox explains that they want to help workers deal with isolation during COVID and beyond. The company feels confident that Azuma Hikari and her similarly-styled friends can alleviate emotional struggles with a maximum of cuteness.
Does a paper doll attached to a speaker really help workers feel like their faceless company loves and values them? Probably not. Maybe all that emotion becomes ingrained in the doll itself. Gatebox recognizes that employees may get attached to their virtual anime wives. That’s why they offer free hardware updates so they can keep their pretend wives with them even without the program in place.