Robots and most technologies are built to make our lives easier, removing the small inconveniences like long lines or looking for a specific book. It's all about instant gratification, right? Despite the convenience, the development of this type of technology has spurred the fear that robots are out to take jobs from regular humans.
To that end, this announcement from TechCrunch Disrupt SF Hackathon isn't necessarily great news for blue-collar workers. A new robot that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning just debuted at the competition.
The new PepperPay robot, built on the Pepper companion robot, can identify items based on just a picture or a snapshot of them. This allows customers to breeze through checkout, without the fuss often associated with barcode scanners in self-checkout counters.
After waiting 30 minutes in line to buy toothpaste at Walgreens, the developers Dave Idell, Adam Chew, and Nisha Garigarn were inspired to create PepperPay. They used IBM Watson’s image recognition technology, and handled the transactions through PayPal.
While the current robot is integrated with the Pepper bot, the system could be adapted to a simple iPad. That removes the need to buy an actual robot or specialized hardware. When asked what's next for PepperPay, the developers has this to say:
"We don't know too much about the retail game, but we imagine a future where something like this changes how we shop. We invite any and all to take a look at our code on github and see where they can take it!"