The 'Wife of the Future' Designed for Japan's Lonely Men

A multi-million dollar industry has sprung up to deal with Japan's loneliness problem. But it has a dark side.
How Lonely Japanese Are Finding Virtual Love

She's always there, always listening and always ready to cater to her husband's every whim. The problem is she's trapped in a tube. And she's not real.

Meet Azuma Hikari, Japan's holographic "wife of the future", according to her inventor Minori Takechi, who believes his AI construct can go some way to solving Japan's problem with loneliness.

Hikari is just one example of the multi-million dollar virtual love industry that's sprung up in a country where over 60 percent of unmarried people aged between 18 and 34 have no relationship with a member of the opposite sex.

Elsewhere in the sphere, a Pokemon Go-like smartphone game, developed by Tokyo company Voltage, sees players of either sex able to take digital lovers on dates anywhere in the world. Yet another uses virtual reality to put a player in the role of a woman who has been captured by a handsome rich man, to explore themes of dominance and submission.

Hikari, however, stays in one place. Like Apple's Siri given human form, she can chat, respond to commands (turn on the lights, turn off the lights) and is always ready to lend an ear. But unlike Siri, she has a darker side — skimpy outfits, titilating conversation and a submissive desire to always keep her man happy.

"I actually want to make her into a person who understands her husband and will always be there to support him," explains Takechi, who is selling his prototype for $2,700 and already reports 300 pre-orders, mainly from men in their 20s and 30s.

Simple companionship isn't Takechi's only vision. His virtual world of husband and dutiful wife, he says, “could develop into love, if we keep investigating further.”

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