As robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) take more meaningful roles in offices, on factory floors and at help desks, conversation in the tech community is finally moving away from “is this all just empty hype?”

As these innovations mature, it’s all about putting robots, AI and IoT to work in ways that aren’t just novel but truly useful. These technologies offer unique opportunities for companies to automate tasks, collect data and offer a superior level of customer service – especially when they’re combined. And that’s where Pepper comes in.

Introducing Pepper

At four feet tall, Pepper is a friendly, approachable humanoid robot, with a wide-eyed smiling face and fully articulated arms and hands with lifelike gestures. Created by Softbank Robotics America (SBRA), this robot is not just a significant achievement in technology, but a unique way to expand a business brand and unlock new, potentially high-value interactions with customers.

Pepper’s key feature is the ability to detect emotion. With one 3D camera, two HD cameras and four directional microphones built in, Pepper uses the latest in shape recognition and voice processing software to detect and respond to human expressions. Through machine learning, Pepper adapts its responses – delivered via loudspeaker – to match the emotions of the user, using what SBRA has dubbed “the emotion engine.” With Pepper’s emotional awareness and ability to respond, businesses can free up their employees to handle more complex requests and tasks, and still give customers a hands-on, engaging experience.

Powered by 20 separate engines, Pepper’s movements are fluid and humanlike, with tactile sensors adding an extra dimension to interactions. The built-in tablet, powered by Android, also supports custom Pepper apps, as well as SBRA’s own applications. This gives businesses the opportunity to personalize their companion to match their requirements.

Pepper’s internet connectivity doesn’t just benefit users; it also allows companies to capture and analyze data from cameras, sensors and user input to learn more about customers and their behavior, supporting smarter business intelligence.

Pepper is already making a difference for companies in a range of industries. Hotels are using it as an automated concierge, offering guests information about the local area. Banks are alleviating the strain on their personnel by using Pepper to deliver the convenience of digital self-service or to find out about additional services that are offered. Retailers are offering mall-goers helpful information, seasonal games and even selfie opportunities with custom apps created through the Pepper platform.

Driving innovation with Pepper

Through a strategic partnership with SBRA we are bringing Pepper to our business and retail customers nationwide.

“Pepper’s innovative form factor brings artificial intelligence to life,” says Mohamad Nasser, general manager of Sprint’s IoT Business Unit.

Pepper represents the culmination of years of research into robotics, AI and IoT. SBRA’s teams are constantly developing new features for Pepper, as well as inviting outside developers, designers, linguists and even educators to contribute to future apps and use cases.

Our own network team will be among the first in the U.S. to develop the robot’s  mobile capabilities, using Pepper’s usage data to glean insights into user behavior, as well as testing our ever-growing portfolio of mobile and business apps.

Pepper is more than “digital signage in a cute package.” Share your ideas with us for using robotics in the enterprise.