Artificial Intelligence Named Pepper Can Read Human Emotions
Japanese company Softbank has unveiled Pepper, a robot that can purportedly read human emotions.
The robot has an "emotional engine" that allows it to interpret gestures, facial expressions, and tone of voice. Softbank claimed that it was capable of performing many different tasks, but more importantly, that a person could communicate with it "just as [he or she] would with friends or family."
"People describe others as being robots because they have no emotions, no heart," said Masayoshi Son, chief executive of Softbank. "For the first time in human history, we're giving a robot a heart, emotions."
The firm will introduce two of its prototypes on Friday, and allow them to interact with customers. Pepper will be available to consumers next year for $1,930.
The demand for robots is expected to grow significantly in the next few years, as a result of the aging population and declining birth rate. Robots could potentially serve to offset labor costs for companies and provide care for the elderly and disabled.
"Even if one can pre-programme such robots to carry out specific tasks based on certain commands or gestures, it could go long way in helping improve elderly care," said Rhenu Bhuller, senior vice president of healthcare at Frost & Sullivan. However, the emotional component is the most groundbreaking aspect of Pepper, with Bruno Maisonnier, founder and chief executive of Aldebaran saying: "The emotional robot will create a new dimension in our lives and new ways of interacting with technology. It's just the beginning, but already a promising reality."