Softbank’s Pepper robot receives bad reviews.

Farewell Pepper, We Hardly Knew Ye, But Found You Creepy

If you are going to run with the big dogs, you better be sure you are able to run. For example, look at Softbank’s Robot called Pepper. 

Pepper was all the rage in 2014 when it was first introduced. And along with a $2,000 initial price, it also came with a $550 per month subscription cost. Well, it really must be a special piece of robotics and AI one might be inclined to think. And many people thought the same way, as it sold out the first 1,000 in about a minute.

SoftBank said Pepper will be able to staff its stores, mind babies, and ultimately “increase the joy” of the families it joins. “A robot that behaves autonomously, powered by love,” reads one slide of the presentation given by CEO Masayoshi Son.

They were pitched as emotional robots. They were going to fill several clever slots in the buyer’s life.  Emotional greetings and conversations were said to be part of the innovative deer-eyed little device. Along with other cute movements, the robot was hyped pretty hard. Pepper, it turns out, was more of a pooper.

The is reporting that the WSJ is predicting the ultimate end of the emotional assistant. The entire article from WSJ is well worth a read as a reminder that tech is hard, and predicting its impact on society is even harder.

Pepper did have success in taking one’s temperature and it knew how to plan a night out for you by suggesting nearby events and places. You know, like your smartphone will do? Below is a video of Pepper creeping out a group of folks at a ballpark in Japan.

Pepper was also a terrible cheerleader, dispatched by the hundreds to raise enthusiasm for SoftBank’s professional baseball team during the COVID lockdowns.

Commenters said the scene reminded them of a dystopia. Hirofumi Miyato, 56, of Tokyo, was watching a game on television and saw the Pepper group in team uniforms moving their arms in unison. He wasn’t inspired to cheer along. “It reminded me of a military parade in North Korea or China,” Mr. Miyato said. “It felt creepy.”

RIP Pepper.