Pepper, the Incredibly Communicative Japanese Humanoid Robot

On his first day at work, Pepper couldn’t keep his robotic mouth shop and entertained a great number of people that happened to be shopping in that location.

The result of a collaboration between Japan’s mobile carrier SoftBank and French humanoid robot maker Alderbaran, Pepper is said to be the world’s first emo robot.

At a press conference held in Tokyo, Softbank’s CEO Masayoshi Son pointed out that Pepper is “the first robot to read human emotions.” The most notable thing about this is that once Pepper identifies someone’s emotions, he won’t stop bragging about them.

Son continued by saying that “Robots like Pepper are adding a new dimension in our daily lives. They would change it with the same magnitude as the PC, Internet and mobile phones did. Our vision is to create an affectionate robot that can understand people’s feelings. Then autonomously, it will take action. Ours is not aiming for productivity, but rather at the home or store, where we provide fun and entertainment.”

With that in mind, it shouldn’t surprise anyone the way Pepper approached one shopper in Tokyo: “So you came to meet me today? I am so happy to see you. What are you doing this weekend?”

Most people who saw him were pleasantly impressed. Shintaro Hamada, 23, pointed out that Pepper is indeed capable of interaction: “I thought he would just talk regardless of what I say, but he really interacted with me. That was great.”

Terry Gou, CEO of Taiwan’s Foxconn, the manufacturer of Pepper, considered that this particular robot is an example of clear evolution in the field of robotics: “We use a lot of robots in factories…, but this is for consumers and also for communication. This can really become a revolution.”

The most interesting fact about Pepper is that it features cloud-based AI, which means that whatever the predecessors learned, he will know. Son explained this: “Several thousand Peppers are going to learn at the store. Everything they learned and gained, is going to be accumulated into the cloud-based service. So that can be accelerating the evolution of the collective wisdom.”

The two companies that worked together to make Pepper a reality are planning to launch in February 2015 in Japan a commercial version that will retail for $2,000. There is no doubt that this will be sold in other countries, as well, since Pepper speaks no less than 17 languages.

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