Samsung C-Lab's Aurora is an emotional-support hologram

AI is all the range these days, including on phones. But while they might be functionally helpful, almost none of these AI assistants are helpful with other human problems, like sadness and distress. Some imaginative folks over at Samsung's innovation program C-Lab have thought exactly of that. But instead of simply just giving existing assistants some EQ, Aurora displays a hologram in a box to give it a personal touch and have you talking to what is technically empty space and thin air.

To be fair, there are other also interesting projects at C-Lab that Samsung will be showing off at the SXSW trade show next week. And all of them leverage AI in one form or another. Toonsquare, for example, takes the modern world's obsessions with emojis and gives it a fun spin. A cartoon that changes facial or body expression depending on the what you type into the word bubble. And, of course, it's using AI to interpret those typed words into their associated emotion.

GADGET might be a bit more controversial in its use of AI. The idea is actually rather ingenious. It's an ad platform that puts ads not in annoying popups but in in-game objects that blend seamlessly with the game world. It's like having a virtual billboard of the ad inside the game itself rather than a disruptive window flashed in your face. Where does the AI come in? In ad targeting, of course.

Neither of these has anything on Aurora. You might be torn whether it's the most ridiculous thing you've seen or the cutest. Aurora involves a box with where you slide a phone into. A cutesy hologram is displayed in the middle and becomes the visual representation of an AI assistant. Aurora is no secretary, however, and is more like a helpful friend. Helpful enough to wake you up, order shoes, or cheer you on.

This is not the first "hologram friend in a box" idea, though it's admittedly less cringe-worthy than others. Practical considerations aside, like not being able to use your phone while in "Aurora mode", it does raise the question of how far we will take AI assistants to their almost frightening logical conclusions. Pass by SXSW next week if you're anywhere near Austin, Texas to see if Aurora is really all she/it is cracked up to be.