First robots made coffee. Now they are going to sell you the equipment to do it yourself.
Pepper, as Nestle calls their new robot salesman, is “the first robot in the world that is able to read and respond to human emotion,” the company claims. These digital pitchmen (or women? It’s very hard to tell) are able to understand facial expressions and analyze vocal tones, allowing them to respond to how people are feeling. And they’re going to use all that analysis to tell you about the wonderful things you can do with a Nescafé machine. Selling people coffee machines might not be the most inspiring use of robot technology, but it ups the cuteness factor by quite a bit.
Why does Nestle want to use robots to sell you on Nescafé? The company describes the move as an effort to “enhance brand engagement.” Beginning with 20 stores in Japan this December, Nestle hopes to have Pepper in 1,000 home-appliance retailers throughout the country by the end of 2015. To me, that sounds like the beginning of a terrifying science fiction movie.0
But don’t worry. Pepper has analyzed your facial expressions and realized that the novelty of having a robot sell you coffee machines wore off after the first time you tried it. And by your tone of voice, it understands that you’re wondering if it has Candy Crush installed.