If I’ve learnt anything in the five decades I’ve spent on this planet it’s that, as far as emotional intelligence goes, us Homo sapiens aren’t always that intelligent. Okay, now that I’ve nailed one of my prejudices to the mast, let me tell you about “Pepper”, the world’s first personal robot capable of reading human emotions. Developed by Aldebaran Robotics SAS, the world leader in humanoid robotics, in conjunction with SoftBank Mobile, Japan’s leading mobile operator – this perky little character is expected to become commercially available in Japan around February next year.
Pepper (so named because of its erm, “sparkling personality”) boasts an impressive suite of sensors to enable it to interact with folk in the real world; four microphones, two colour cameras, 3D sensor, five touch sensors, three bump sensors, six laser and two sonar sensors, along with gyro sensors in its chest and legs. It also features voice recognition capabilities, and comes with Wi-Fi connectivity so it can acquire various types of information and synchronise with cloud-based databases via an Internet connection. Also incorporated are a number of proprietary algorithms to help it control applications automatically.
Standing 1,2 metres tall and weighing in at 28 kg, Pepper’s capable of moving at speeds of up to 3 km/h and can operate for around 12 hours on a single charge of its 30 Ah lithium-ion battery.
Apart from being capable of analysing facial expressions and voice tones, Pepper can also make jokes, dance and amuse audiences thanks to a wide variety of entertainment capabilities – some of which were developed in cooperation with Yoshimoto Robotics Laboratory. Furthermore, capabilities that help Pepper evolve by learning through daily interactions with people are being planned for the commercial launch date.
As you may have gathered, this little plastic humanoid boggles my mind. What I want to know is, if one gives it the stony silent treatment, will it throw a hissy fit then consult a cyber-shrink in a huff?
To find out more visit www.aldebaran.com