SoftBank Opens Pepper Bot for Android Platform

SoftBank Opens Pepper Bot for Android Platform

SoftBank has revealed during a recent announcement that its Pepper robot will now be opened for Android platform. The primary component of the robot is the tablet attached to its chest. The robot extracts data from apps running on the tablet. The extraction of information is made possible through Naoqi, the robot’s own OS for his A.I. systems. This data enables the bot to perform activities apart from communicating with humans. However, owing to the decreasing commitment by developers, the company has decided to soon allow the tablet to be accessible over Google’s Android OS.

However, the Japanese multinational telecommunications and Internet company has not revealed whether it has entered an agreement with Google for giving accessibility to Android on the tablet. Furthermore, no clarifications have been given over the Google Play functionality being included in the tablet. Google receives a part of revenue from the sales of app being made on Google Play, and since Google Pay is the most successful system on Android, SoftBank’s decision might come across as a slightly no-win situation.

Pepper has been created using highly sophisticated conversational AI so that it can act as a companion and a servant, along with the capability of performing tasks like working at a phone store. However, the bot has not been successful in performing its last function due to the lack of assistance from developers. The fundamental ecosystem of the robot can be partially considered responsible for this failure.

Though, Pepper is sold at a price of $1,800 per unit, SoftBank is facing losses. As it becomes accessible on Android, the bot has been exposed to numerous apps and services as well as APIs, which will enable Pepper’s OS and A.I to amalgamate with those apps and services. If this measure is appropriately managed, it might result in Pepper becoming a product with true commercial appeal and real value among average customers.

According to a report in USA Today by Marco della Cava, Japan-based SoftBank Robotics announced Wednesday at Google I/O, the company's annual developer's conference, that it is opening a new Pepper-focused outpost in San Francisco and unveiling an Android SDK, or software development kit, in the hopes of enticing programmers to write code for the robot. "Pepper is ultimately an unfinished product, and we just wanted to incentivize developers to expand the ways in which people can engage with a humanoid robot," says Steve Carlin, vice president of SoftBank Robotics Americas, which has an existing office in Boston.

Pepper is a white hard-plastic robot with humanoid features such as large eyes and arms as well as a display screen for a chest. The robot is said to be able to read human emotions by processing visual and vocal inputs through its various microphones and cameras. Its purpose is to be "much more than a robot, he is a genuine humanoid companion created to communicate with you in the most natural and intuitive way," according to the company's website.

A report published in the Japan Today said, "SoftBank Robotics Corp and SoftBank Corp on Thursday announced that their humanoid robot “Pepper” will support Google’s Android, and that presales of models for developers will begin from July. Ahead of the presale launch, SoftBank Robotics will offer a beta version of Pepper SDK for Android Studio, a software development kit that enables the development of RoboApps on the Android platform."

By making Pepper compatible with Android, Android application developers will be able to utilize their existing knowledge and technologies to develop RoboApps for Pepper. With the high number of Android developers around the world, the possibilities for Pepper RoboApp developers will greatly increase with Android support.

"Japanese developers of a robot are asking the public to come up with ideas for what their waist-high humanoid can do and they are offering a software development kit for programmers to get creative. The fast-selling robot, known as Pepper, can already laugh and serve coffee and is being used as a waiter, salesman and customer service representative in about 500 companies in Japan, including Nestle, Mizuho Bank and Nissan," according to a news report published by Reuters News.

Now its creators, SoftBank Corp, have started offering a kit, Pepper SDK for Android Studio, that will allow programmers to develop new tasks. The offer comes ahead of the July pre-sale launch of the robot in the United States. Pepper, which costs 198,000 yen ($1,800), has been in high demand in Japan. The first six batches of the robot, each averaging 1,000 units, sold out in less than a minute.