Meet Pepper, Japan's ‘emotional’ robot

The Japanese firm Softbank have created a kawaii robot that tailors its responses to your mood

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pepper
I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords

Meet Pepper, the robot with a heart. On Thursday, Japanese telecommunications giant Softbank unveiled a humanoid robot which they claim can work out how you're feeling and react accordingly to them. 

"People describe others as being robots because they have no emotions, no heart." Softbank CEO Masayoshi Son said during a press conference. "For the first time in human history, we're giving a robot a heart, emotions."

Looking more like a cross between the robo-butler from Robot & Frank  and the all-white WALL-E, the child-sized robot features kawaii anime-sized eyes and comes with a vocabulary of 4,500 Japanese words. It uses cloud-based AI to analyse human expressions, gestures and tones of voice.

The company say that Pepper can be integrated into the household "just like any other member of the family". Pepper will go on sale to the public at the beginning of next year for 180,000 yen, or £1,150 – pretty reasonable for a robot that can (apparently) decipher a range of human emotions. Softbank says there is potential to upgrate the robot with apps to increase its intelligence. 

It's not the first so-called "emotional" robot to appear on the market. Two months ago, Cornwall-based robotics firm Engineering Arts announced that the creation of the SociBot-Mini: a disembodied robotic head and torso that uses a depth-sensing camera to capture and analyse your gestures and moods. (You can also project a picture of your face onto its head – yay for robot narcissism.) 

Two versions of Pepper debut in Japanese Softbank stores today as customer service tools, but the firm hopes that the robot will have infiltrated the homes of Japanese families by next year. Is this the beginning of robot revolution?

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