Tech Byte: I, Robot

Maybe we are not as far from the “I, Robot” age as we think. In June, Japanese billionaire Masayoshi Son unveiled Pepper who he says has been created to be tender and make people smile.

This 48-inch tall, 62-pound robot has no human-like features but has been programmed to read the emotions of people around it by recognizing expressions and voice tones using the latest voice recognition technology.

Pepper’s empathetic programming allows it to connect with people through other senses such as touch. It is loaded with more than a dozen sensors, including two touch sensors in its hands, three touch sensors on its head and six laser sensors and three bumper sensors in its base. It also contains two cameras and four microphones on its head.

At Son’s mobile phone company Softbank’s demonstration, Pepper not only sang, “I want to be loved,” but also danced and told jokes.

Pepper went on display on June 6, 2014, at Softbank retailers, which now owns Sprint in the United States. Although overseas sales plans have not been decided, this next generation robot will go on sale in Japan in February 2015 for 198,000 yen ($1,900).

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