Two years ago, Japan's SoftBank introduced Pepper, the world's first “personal companion robot” that is capable of reading and responding to human emotions. Since then, Pepper has been introduced in SoftBank mobile stores, Nescafe stores and Mizuho Bank in Japan as well as Japanese households.
Now, SoftBank Robotics America (SBRA) and its agency Midnight Oil are gearing up for the release of Pepper in the U.S. and Europe later this year.
Their initial campaign, comprised of a video series, is designed to encourage developers to build apps for the robot since it needs programs in order to operate efficiently.
The video series, hosted on the SBRA YouTube page, targets mobile application developers and coders by offering them a "unique opportunity" to work on a potentially revolutionary product in which their ideas truly do come to life. This development platform is available to anyone interested in creating Android programs for the robot.
The second phase of the initiative will focus on driving sales of the product to consumers. SoftBank has reportedly sold more than 7,000 Peppers. It’s not cheap. The 64-pound robot costs about $1,700 upfront and an additional $134 a month for 36 months for maintenance and $89 a month for 36 months for insurance.