The latest designation of the Softbank’s Pepper robot is a receptionist at the two hospitals in Belgium. The two hospitals are the CHR Citadelle in Liège and AZ Damiaan in Ostend that will employ Pepper to aid the hospital staff and visitors to the hospital.
The software for the bots has been developed by a Belgian company called Zora Bots.
The robot can guide or walk the patients to the relevant doctor when they give it their appointment number. A large screen embedded in the chest of Pepper makes user communication and interaction easier. As Pepper settles into the daily routine at the hospital, he may even handle more tasks.
Previously, the Mizuho Bank from Japan introduced Pepper in a few branches of the bank. Currently, the company is working in collaboration with IBM to integrate Pepper into the Watson computing platform. This project is an attempt to enhance the HRI (human-robot interaction) using the natural language.
The spokesperson of the Zora Bots said:
“[Pepper] provide[s] an alternative, fast and connected initial contact and to help hospital reception staff in a user-friendly manner. Healthcare professionals are more focused on the actual tasks the robot is here to perform. Although the hardware has some ’emotional tracking’ capabilities, these are not the one being developed at this stage.”
Both the hospitals have already employed the 23-inch tall Nao bot in the pediatric, geriatric, and rehab units. These robots conduct the exercise sessions, interact with the kids to cheer them up, and engage the elderly in activities.
The co-CEO of Zora, Fabrice Goffin is excited about the debut of Pepper in the healthcare industry.
“[The company aims to make social robots accessible to everyone].”
The designers at Zora are trying to make Pepper intuitive enough so that it may be used by anyone, without needing any technical background.
This remodeled Pepper will cost around €30,000 ($34,000). The original Pepper is available from Softbank for under $1,700.