Tue, Dec 02, 2014 - Page 5 News List

Robot Pepper new face of Nespresso brand in Japan


Move over George Clooney — Nestle has employed a fleet of chirpy robots to sell its coffee machines in Japanese stores.

The Hollywood heartthrob, who has become the global face of the Nespresso brand, has been given the elbow in favor of Pepper, a cheeky and chatty android, which its makers claim can answer customers’ questions.

“How do you enjoy coffee? Number one: An eye-opener coffee; Number two: A post-meal cup of coffee,” Pepper asked a presenter at a promotional event yesterday.

The 1.2m tall robot displays a human-like face perched on top of a white plastic body, with rollers and what looks like a tablet computer on its chest.

The gimmick is set to see 1,000 stores across Japan with their own Pepper, which makers say can understand up to 80 percent of conversations.

The robots is going to “help us discover consumer needs through conversations between our customers and Pepper,” said a joint statement from Nestle and Softbank, whose French arm Aldebaran developed the technology.

Pepper, which was unveiled in June by Softbank president Masayoshi Son, already sells mobile phones at Softbank’s 74 Japanese stores, where it has been used to collect customers’ opinions.

Engineers claim the robot’s artificial intelligence has allowed it to expand its conversational ability by listening to what customers say.

The robot is set to go on sale to the general public in February, with a price tag of ¥198,000 (US$1,670), plus monthly fees.

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