Robots—More Than Novelty
While robots on the market are mostly about the novelty, models have been designed for educational purposes and others for assistance with physical tasks. SoftBank Robotics Corporation and Aldebaran have been developing interactive humanoid robots for quite some time. Now, there is a new model made for emotional companionship. Introduced last year, Pepper, called the world’s first ‘emotional’ robot, has finally entered the market. It launched in spectacular fashion; all 1,000 units sold out in a single minute this past weekend.
Pepper: The ‘Emotional’ Robot
Pepper is quite possibly the most ‘human’ humanoid built thus far. It has an “endocrine-type multi layer network” of cameras, tactile sensors, and other equipment to gather and interpret information. It is able to effectively ‘read’ emotions by recognizing a user’s tone of voice and facial expression. Not only can it identify and interpret human emotions, but it can even express its own, purportedly. According to SoftBank, ”Pepper is at ease when he is with people he knows, happy when praised and scared when the lights go down.” Like a human, it can change how it expresses itself and adjust to its surroundings.
Man’s Other Best Friend
The company aims for Pepper to be a companion to people all over the world. Already able to speak English, French, Japanese, and Spanish, more languages will be added to the humanoid’s capabilities over the next few months. The model is also relatively affordable, costing only $1,600 USD apiece (+$200 in monthly data and insurance fees) as opposed to the nearly $8,000 price for the company’s other robot NAO. Based on our analysis, Pepper may be the most affordable and most enjoyable humanoid companion on the market today. The emotive polyglot robot is scheduled for global release in 2016.