Pepper the android is set to rival George Clooney as the face of coffee in 1,000 Japanese stores, thanks to SoftBank.
Move over George Clooney – Nestlé has employed a fleet of chirpy robots to sell its coffee machines in Japanese stores.
The US actor, who has become the global face of the Nespresso brand, has been given the elbow in favour of Pepper, a cheeky and chatty android, which its makers claim can answer customers’ questions.
“How do you enjoy coffee? Number one: An eye-opener coffee; Number two: A post-meal cup of coffee,” Pepper asked a Japanese TV personality, Kyoko Uchida, at a promotion event in Tokyo on Monday.
The 120cm-tall robot has a human-like face perched on top of a white plastic body, with rollers and what looks like a tablet computer on its chest.
The gimmick will eventually see 1,000 stores across Japan with their own Pepper, which makers say can understand up to 80% of conversations.
The robots will “help us discover consumer needs through conversations between our customers and Pepper,” said a joint statement from Nestlé and SoftBank, whose French arm Aldebaran developed the technology.
Pepper – which was unveiled in June by SoftBank’s president, Masayoshi Son – already sells mobile phones at SoftBank’s 74 Japanese stores, where it has been used to collect customers’ opinions.
Engineers claim the robot’s artificial intelligence has allowed it to expand its conversational ability by listening to what customers say.
The robot will go on sale to the public in February, with a price tag of 198,000 yen (£1,060) plus monthly fees.
Source: theguardian.com; 01 Dec 2014