Weird Science! NYU Student Invents Virtual Girlfriend

Inbed
Photo: Courtesy of Drew Burrows

You work late. Like, every night. You probably screwed up your last steady relationship, and, well, maybe there's no one to curl up next to in bed when you stumble in the door at night. Drew Burrows knows the feeling. "I'm in this grad program right now, and it's totally consuming," he said. "I come home every night to an empty bed." So Burrows, 28, engineered (literally) a solution, which he unveiled to the public last night at NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program Spring Show at Tisch School of the Arts.

It's simple to behold — a single mattress, tucked into a dark, curtained back room of the showcase space. On it: a lithe brunette. She's perfectly quiet, but once you sit or lie down, she responds to your every move. Lie on your back, she snuggles up right next to you in a log position. Curl up in the fetal position, she spoons. The only hitch: She's 2-D. "Yeah, you can't feel the girl. That's the thing," Burrows explained as he demonstrated his invention, an "infrared sensitive" light projection (meaning it reacts, and the projected woman moves, based on an infrared sensor) called INBED. "Still, it's so nice if you're tired and worn out to have someone to curl up with."

As for satisfying those not-so-innocent late-night desires, this lady adheres to her role as steady girlfriend. Give her kiss on the check and she rolls over and buries her face in the pillow. And yes, she stays fully clothed at all times. Nonetheless, Burrows suggests his new alternative to a full-body pillow or (ugh) blow-up doll could provide late-night comfort for traders, lawyers, or any other single guy in Manhattan who simply works too hard to keep a girlfriend. Speaking of, how long has Burrows been single?

"Long enough to come up with this idea," he sighed. —Christine Lagorio