Pepper to sell coffee machines in Japan
‘Pepper’, the world’s first personal robot that can read emotions, is about to join Nestle’s front line, retailing coffee machines.
Nestlé Japan will begin using the ‘humanoid robot’ in Japan, its biggest market, and the country where the remarkably personable robot was invented.
It is Pepper’s second commercial deal – and by far the largest. The machines have also been hired by a Japanese bank to help staff customer service points in branches.
Nestle is banking on the novelty value of Pepper to engage with consumers. The robot has been commercially released by inventor SoftBank Robotics, with pricing from about US$1800 a unit.
Nescafé says it will use Pepper to sell Nescafé Dolce Gusto and Nescafé Gold Blend Barista coffee machines in home appliance stores in Japan starting in December.
Pepper is the first robot in the world that is able to read and respond to human emotion. Equipped with voice and emotion recognition technology, Pepper’s parents say he (or is it a she?) can read people’s facial expressions and listen to their tone of voice to analyse how they’re feeling.
“Pepper will be able to explain Nescafé products and services and engage in conversation with consumers. I hope that this new consumer engagement model will expand across the world as an example of Japanese innovation” said Kohzoh Takaoka, president and CEO of Nestlé Japan.
Masayoshi Son, chairman and CEO of SoftBank Corporation, says the company dreamed of creating “an advanced consumer experience” with Pepper.
“Now the dream is coming true. We hope that by providing people the opportunity to interact with a robot whilst shopping, we can help create experiences of wonder and delight for consumers,” he said.
Pepper will start selling Nescafé machines in around 20 home appliance stores in December and progressively be rolled out into 1000 stores by the end of 2015.