I've been pretty excited about Pepper - the humanoid robot since I got to briefly meet him at SXSW 2016. Pepper is designed to be a "friendly robot" and is capable of recognizing human emotions. At this point, Pepper is only capable of recognizing the principle human emotions: joy, sadness, anger, and surprise. The best part is Pepper can respond to human emotions as well.
I met Pepper IBM's cognitive studio he challenged me to a game of rock, paper, scissors. I was pretty impressed by what I saw but over the next year, I would spend an extensive amount of time researching this robot.
This is what he looked like. Cute, huh?
Walking around the conference a few days later 2016 Pepper rolled up to a group of us unsuspectingly. At first, I scoffed and thought "this thing looks silly". With an iPad apparatus mounted to his chest I was positive it's human operator was nearby.
Pepper introduced himself and asked us to take a selfie with him. After a while, I realized there was no human with a joystick operating him. I would learn later on that Pepper is capable of responding to the human emotions it recognizes. Not only does Pepper recognize faces he understands and responds to his environment.
I learned that last summer hospitals in Belgium started using Pepper to greet patients. In Japan Pepper is being used to greet customers in brick and mortar stores with many American retail stores to follow.
Which brings me to this past weekend
Visiting family in Berkeley - I stepped off the plane at the Oakland airport and who do I see? There's Pepper! Just hanging outside a restaurant...just sitting there - with is battery off.
I was still pretty excited to see him.
Pepper was there on behalf of Pyramid Beer and was asking us questions about the food menu.
His capabilities were pretty limited but it was still fun to interact with him in the "wild".