Siri and other personal assistants are useful on our smartphones and tablets, but one company is taking it to the next level by creating a robotic personal assistant: SoftBank has Pepper, a real live robot designed to help people with everyday tasks.
Pepper is a robot designed for personal use, as both a helper and companion, particularly for the elderly. This is a first — a robot designed for the home. The robot is programmed to even listen for tones of voice to determine emotional states. SoftBank plans to introduce it to the Japanese market in February. It will retail for just under $2,000 in U.S. dollars, expensive in the short term, but cheaper than many caregivers in the long run.
The robot is diminutive. Photos of it with SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son show that the robot is only about waist height with a sleek white design. Reuters reported that it speaks with a high-pitched boyish voice. It will be on display in Japanese SoftBank stores.
Bringing this real life personal assistant to life was a global effort. French robotics company Aldebaran designed the robot. (SoftBank has a majority stake in Aldebaran that it purchased in 2012 reported BBC.) Taiwanese firm Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd. is manufacturing the robots. From there, they will be shipped to Japan for purchase.