Pepper reads human emotion, follows your motion with her eyes, and costs less than a high-end television set. She retails for under $2,000 USD in Japan (US pricing unknown as of yet).
Pepper looks awfully similar to how one might imagine Siri in physical form and is an exciting step toward the robot assistant-filled future a lot of us hope to see. The bot is all the more welcome given that she’s a humanoid robot sitting outside of the creepy uncanny valley.
To some though, her disarmingly friendly, anime-like eyes mask a nefarious intention to relieve us all of our jobs. It’s easy to imagine.
Pepper is cheaper than you (she requires no wages), and she speaks more languages than you (over a dozen). Plus, her torso is basically an iPad.
We at Singularity University have been lucky enough to have a Pepper to show off (and occasionally shame) at events. The robot has been known to rudely interrupt conversations by suddenly looking up, gazing at you, and announcing, “Hello!”
It’s as unnerving as it is cute.
But interacting with her feels natural in no time, and I suspect her presence in stores will soon be as mundane as self-checkout kiosks. Pepper is not the first retail assistant robot, but she is on the leading edge of robotics tech.
Watch Pepper in action in this IEEE Spectrum video:
Image Credit: SoftBank Robotics