Pepper personal robot can read human emotions

A robot called Pepper that claims to read and react to human emotions using a range of sensors has been unveiled by Japanese communications giant Softbank.

Cameras in the robot's head can read facial expressions and 3D movement, while four microphones detect voice tones. Touch sensors allow the robot to react to contact with the face and hands.

Other sensors in Pepper's legs detect obstacles while the robot is moving around and it features auto balance to prevent it falling over.

"Pepper also comes equipped with capabilities and an interface that enables communication with people, including the latest voice recognition technology, superior joint technology to realise graceful gestures, and emotion recognition that analyses expressions and voice tones." Softbank said.

The robot could be used in medical applications, where emotions need to be read by staff in order to react to patients' needs, for example.

Pepper was developed with Aldebaran Robotics, a specialist in creating humanoid and programmable robots.

Bruno Maisonnier, founder and CEO of Aldebaran said: "For the past nine years, I've believed that the most important role of robots will be as kind and emotional companions to enhance our daily lives, to bring happiness, constantly surprise us, and make people grow."

"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. Thanks to Pepper, the future begins today and we want all of you to be a part of it."

Pepper is set to launch in Japan in February 2015 and will cost 198,000 JPY (1,150) and will come with an SDK for developers that is due to launch in September.

IT Pro approached Softbank for comment on UK availability, but no response had been received at the time of publication. However, the company has said it will launch outside of Japan in the future presumably after measuring the success of the humanoid in there first.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.