Sofbank presents Pepper, the chatty interactive robot that will have the ability to act upon people’s emotions.
Softbank, one of the biggest mobile tech companies in Japan, collaborated with Aldebaran Robotics and Foxconn, to yet again put humanity one step closer to the uncanny valley. Say hello to Pepper, the interactive robot that can understand the emotion of whomever it speaks to.
Social robots interact with humans by mimicking their actions and roles in society. Pepper is no different; however, it is gifted with the ability to read and understand the emotional state of the person it is speaking to. Using an array of sensors that observe facial expressions, voice tone, and other variables, it tries to analyze how a person feels, learns from their reactions, and forms a sort of personality that continues to grow and evolve as it interacts with more people.
For example, if a certain action causes a person to act more positively to Pepper, it would build a point-based assessment using the action taken. It would then note the action and store the point assessment to an online database, where it will be analyzed to help Pepper utilize situations that bears similar social actions more efficiently.
Unlike other social humanoid robots that focus on imitating every point and aspect of being a human, Pepper is markedly concentrated only on its human interaction AI. This is evidently seen by its limited physical attributes. For instance, it doesn’t use legs for walking, and it also only has a total of 20 motors around its body for movement.
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Nevertheless, Pepper is still equipped with cameras, microphones, 3D sensors, touch sensors, and even accelerometers in order to maximize its ability to interact and communicate. It uses Aldebaran Robotics’ NAOqi OS, and Wi-Fi connectivity helps it to connect to a cloud-based system, the Cocoro SB, which further augments its emotion analysis and decision making functions. It even has a 10-inch touchscreen on its chest, enabling it to better express itself when a visual form of communication becomes necessary.
Pepper will be catered to the public commercially as a personal robot unit. Softbank projects that it will be available as early as February 2015, with an estimated a price tag of something that is equivalent to almost $2,000. Even before that though, a developer’s conference will be held in September of this year to present and distribute its SDK.