Recently, Japan’s interest in robotic technology has shifted towards the potential of humanoid robots that are able to interact with humans. Robotics has been sought after as the pillar of economic growth in Japan and robots have long been used to facilitate the manufacturing industry in the country.
Now, with the creation of Pepper–the first easily commercially available humanoid robot–companies such as Nestle Japan have sought the help of this robot to promote and sell their coffee brand Nescafe and engage with consumers.
Launched by SoftBank and Aldebaran Robotics SAS on June 5, 2014, Pepper is the first robot in the world that is able to recognize and respond to human emotions and he became commercially available in the market on February 2015. Although he does not clean and cook for you, he has the ability to determine what you feel through his built-in voice and emotion recognition technology. In short, Pepper is a social robot, a companion that can talk and react to your emotions. To some extent, he can live independently.
So what does pepper do as your social companion? When Pepper senses that you are bursting out with laughter, he instantly recognizes that you are in a good mood. Similarly, he can also sense if you are anxious or bothered by something. Using his built-in knowledge about joy, surprise, anger, doubt and sadness, he analyzes your facial expression, body language and the words that you use when you are communicating with him. Based on these emotion-related data that you show, he then guesses your mood and adapts to it. He will try to cheer you up by playing a song, for instance, when you are down.
As a social robot, Pepper can express his emotions through his built-in body language program. He can also make funny gestures and copy voices. Your constant interaction with Pepper allows him to recognize you and eventually learn new things about you such as your preferences. And because he has the capacity to adapt and improve, he is also able to search for applications that will surprise and entertain you.