Smartphones may be slowing in innovation and new tricks, but the technology behind smartphones still has plenty of room for growth. SoftBank (a telecommunications company in Japan, also the company behind Sprint Corps here in the US) has been using the smart technology to produce Pepper. A robot with many abilities including reading emotion in your voice, Pepper will be available in the US by Summer 2015.
Currently, you can find Pepper the robot in SoftBank stores across Japan as a different type of sales rep. Standing at only 4 feet tall, Pepper can dance, make jokes and communicate as well as read the tone of your voice to decipher your emotions while interacting. The goals for Pepper have shifted, adding more and more possibilities for SoftBank to get Pepper into our lives.
Originally, Pepper was designed to help families and elderly people, but after gaining the interests of businesses everywhere, Pepper has grown into something more. Fumihide Tomizawa, SoftBank’s chief Executive officer in the robot division said, “We could enter the robot business for industrial use in the mid or long term,” however the dream remains the same.
Masayoshi Son, chief executive officer of SoftBank envisioned Pepper to help turn society away from the fear of robots, to a society where we coexist. One way to help that dream of coexistence become a reality, is to take Pepper from the business world, and bring it to the home.
While Pepper isn’t currently available anywhere for personal use, the plan is to launch it to consumers in Japan in February. The going cost for Peppers companionship is set at 198,000 yen or $1,900, though that price can change when Pepper comes to the US. SoftBank hopes that the release in Japan will give them a better idea on how to market Pepper to the common consumer as well as how to price. “We will sell Pepper in the United States within a year after gathering information in Japan,” Tomizawa said. “I won’t be surprised if Pepper sales will be half to business and half to consumers.”
SoftBank may have Pepper, but the world of robotics is taking off-just so far it’s been behind the scenes. Google has acquired Schaft Inc., a robotics company who has also developed a humanoid robot that walks on two legs in Tokyo. Panasonic Corp. has their Hospi-R machine that helps in hospital with medication deliveries, and Honda Motor has Asimo, a soccer-playing robot. There are also startups working on robots as well, like Jibo, a personal assistant for the home.
What are your thoughts, are you ready for a world with robots, or would you rather we not have them available? If you’d like to purchase a robot for your home, what things would you like it to be able to do? Let us know in the comments section down below, or on our G+ page.