In a country like Japan where cute culture is rising, it is no doubt to see industries opting for ‘cute’ products as well. Recently we have witnessed another such invention introduced by a firm based in Tokyo. According to the firm, this is the first droid that will be able to read human emotions and act accordingly. The firm, Mobile carrier Softbank, has announced that its robot, Pepper, will be on sale in February with a price tag of $1,900. The robot was unveiled in Tokyo where it cooed and hummed.
The robot has no legs but has hands which can make gestures. Pepper touched hands with Masayoshi Son, Chief Executive Softbank, on stage and the moment was termed ‘Genesis/ET’ by the company. Pepper makes use of an engine focusing on emotions in collaboration with a cloud-based artificial intelligence to observe and study expressions, speech tones and gestures of humans to reach a conclusion. According to Masayoshi Son; ‘Our aim is to develop affectionate robots that can make people smile.’ Despite the fact that robotic companions are very famous in Japan, no company has really introduced a product which has been a market success, rather we have seen a number of companies step out of the competition.
Pepper has been designed not with practical applications in mind but rather to be a companion robot which can fight off loneliness and crack jokes for you when you feel down. Pepper is 48” tall and weighs in at 28 Kg and is bald. It has two eyes which resemble doll’s eyes and comes with a flat panel display located on its chest. Pepper is the result of a collaborative effort carried out with Aldebaran Robotics.
Pepper has a myriad of sensors incorporated into it along with the latest voice recognition hardware and software. It also comes with two cameras and twice the number of microphones which are located on its head. It is compatible for Wi-Fi and Ethernet networking. On Thursday, during the demonstration, Pepper sang ‘I want to be loved’.
According to founder and Chief executive of Aldebaran, Bruno Maisonnier,; ‘I’ve believed that the most important role of robots will be as kind and emotional companions to enhance our daily lives, to bring happiness, constantly surprise us and make people grow.’