Aldebaran and Japan’s SoftBank to launch the first emotionally-aware robot ‘Pepper’

Jun 5, 2014
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Aldebaran has been making quite a bit of news lately in the world of robotics and are, increasingly looking the the leader in their field. They’ve long had ambitions to not only bring humanoid robots to the masses, but also to do so on a global scale. After having raised $20 million by 2011, in 2012 Japan’s SoftBank, who run various business and have been ambitiously investing around the world (e.g. buying the US telco Sprint and perhaps T-Mobile soon, leading Criteo’s series D round, etc), made a strategic equity investment in Alderbaran, giving them 78.5% equity stake in the robotics leader.

pepper 1Over the last few years, Aldebaran and SoftBank teams have been working jointly to launch the world’s first robot that can read emotions named ‘Pepper’. Based on a series of complex algorithms, Pepper is able to take its surroundings into consideration and react proactively to those it’s engaging with. In addition, Pepper is also equipped with an interface that enables it to interact with people, sophisticated joint technology allowing it to make graceful movements, emotion recognition which can analyze facial expressions and voice tones, and a range of entertainment capabilities enabling Pepper to make jokes, dance and happily engage with others.

Aldebaran and SoftBank are looking for Pepper to be a lot more than a robot that people simply purchase for entertainment purposes. They also want the launch of Pepper to spur developers around the world to create a variety of robot apps that will expand Pepper’s capabilities even further. To make this a reality, Aldebaran and SoftBank will open up the platform with the launch of their software development kit in September.

While Pepper will most definitely be an important innovation in the world of robotics, another big-positive in Pepper’s favor is its affordable price.  At only around $2000, Pepper will be accessible for many consumers as it rolls-out around the world. From tomorrow, Tokyo-based consumers will have the chance to check-out Pepper for the first time at two SoftBank’s outlets there and Japanese consumers will be able to get their own Pepper starting in February 2015.  No word yet as to when Pepper will be popping up in other markets.