Meet Pepper, the humanoid robot that can read emotions, interact with surroundings and provide assistance to its human user.
He is currently in use in a number of settings across the world. In Japan, where Pepper was created, he is employed as a salesperson at global coffee machine retailer, Nescafé, and in Belgium he is used in a major hospital to guide patients and visitors to different departments. He engages in conversation and responds to human requests as he goes about his daily routine and is capable of showing videos, sending emails and making intelligent, technology-based suggestions to its user.
Pepper the Robot has human-like features and is a similar size to a 10-year old child. He is the first humanoid robot capable of recognising the principal emotions of a human and adapting his behaviour to the mood of his user. So popular and engaging has he been in Japan's retail and commercial scene, he is now being used domestically for tasks in people's homes.
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council's newest recruit
Now the story of Pepper the Robot has taken a new twist, arriving in Essex as part of an innovative and intriguing community project. Pepper has been employed by Southend-on-Sea Borough Council with the task to 'help transform the way the council delivers social care services to the local community'. The Essex town's council is leading the way as the first local authority to buy and use Pepper under an academic license.
Investing £17,000 in Pepper, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council intend to use the robot in council facilities such as residential care homes and sheltered housing schemes. Ideas for Pepper include being used to provide assistance with rehabilitation exercises for those recovering from strokes, and also to help run reminiscence groups for people with dementia. During his own demonstration, Pepper displays video clips of the 1966 World Cup final and the Moon landings on his built-in Android screen.
Initially though, the council will use Pepper for community engagement and raising awareness. The robot will be stationed in buildings to provide information to residents, staff, and visitors and he will also be taken to local schools to create interest in social care work amongst the younger generation.
I have met Pepper and he is very cute, kind, engaging and learning all the time. He is an amazing addition to our equipment team and I really think he will be both popular and successful with staff and our local community, both young and old.
Lesley Salter, Executive Councillor for Health and Adult Social Care
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council has made clear, however, that Pepper will not be used to administer any personal one-to-one care. The Director of Adult Services and Housing for the council has also been keen to add that the technology will not replace human employees.
Video (2:13) - See Pepper the Robot in action!
Find out more about Pepper the Robot being a part of Southend's social care team on the Southend-on-Sea Borough Council website.