Will we ever live in a robot infested future? More to the point, would we like to live in one? These are questions that the people in Japan are probably asking right now, as their country introduces increasing numbers of robots into the market. The latest one however has a rather interesting job to do.
Pepper, a new 1.2 meter high mobile robot, has been designed to read and respond to people’s emotions, using any of a number of its sophisticated sensors. The robot comes with voice recognition via 4 internal microphones and software which can analyze expressions and voice tones to interact in a more natural way.
Judging by the images on the company’s website, Pepper is clearly at home in various social situations, from chatting with professors in a classroom to sharing a story over a cup of tea in a cafe, but of course we’re not told exactly how fruitful these encounters are for the humans involved in the exchanges.
The marketing blurb suggests that the robot is able to communicate in a natural way, just like a friend or a member of the family and even ‘make jokes, dance and amuse people‘ which should be fun to watch. Or not. What is clear is the fact that the company behind the technology are hoping that the software development kit they are offering will encourage others to deliver more functionality to Pepper as time passes. Kind of like a crowdsourced robot emotions movement.
As they say, one day users will be able to download new behaviors from the online robot store, to tweak your little friend more precisely to your requirements. The mind boggles. The device comes with a tablet computer and can speak four languages at the moment, with more to come. In the video below you can see Pepper being taught to play the game statues by some random folk (not sure of the context). Fascinating.