Japan is full of cute, humanoid – like robots that are considered true family members and companions. Last month we were super excited to tell you about Hitachi’s funny android, a smaller version of a 3CPO able to tell jokes (more or less) and to understand human emotions and non – verbal communication.
If you walked around Tokyo today you probably didn’t stop by the SoftBank Mobile shop to see the latest new Japanese cute robot that speaks and deciphers emotions. But don’t worry, we have the whole subject covered!
Pepper is the name of this yet another android companion and was showcased yesterday by its parent, Japanese billionaire Masayoshi Son who owns the carrier Softbank. According to the journalists covering the news,
The robot was developed by French robot maker Aldebaran Robotics and would be manufactured by Taiwan’s Foxconn, a major supplier to Apple.
What can Pepper do and other similar robots can’t? Well, not much, as they are all in their early stages of development, but to be honest, this little critter is no less impressive than its competitors: it is said to be able to recognize about 70 to 80 percent of spontaneous conversations, it can sing, gesture, recognize human expression and voice tones and can learn in time a lot of things about the hosting family.
During the presentation, Pepper sang that he wanted to be loved and actually made a few hands – gestures simulating dancing, but it still has a lot to learn. The spontaneous conversation is not that spontaneous and the overall feeling people had about it was a combination between frustration and admiration.
Japan is a country that has a major crush on cute robots, and the previous androids are a good testimony that the market is open and willing to embrace the new family members. None of Pepper’s predecessors had an outstanding sales share, although the Japanese were very fond of the Aibo pet-dog robot delivered by Sony and put to rest in 2006.
Pepper, however, does not represent just another little semi – useless new Japanese cute robot, but a concept that has yet to be developed. In the words of its creator,
Pepper could become a very good friend and a powerful tutor for a child, for example. He could learn about a family over several years… and actually become a member of the family.
Pepper might become more than a family member, but a full – time worker. In Japan,
Robotic technology is already used to check on the elderly and robots might also play a role in reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Unfortunately, if you are outside Japan, you won’t be able to buy Pepper soon, although there are some undecided plans to make the robot available worldwide. So far, the company will start selling Pepper to Japanese customers sometimes February next year for a price of approximately $2,000.