Pepper the friendly robot has started a new job

pepper working in hospital softbank bot
Already busy dealing with customers in phone stores, train stations, and departments stores, Pepper the robot has now been put to work in two hospitals in Belgium.

The android, which can understand and respond to a range of human emotions, started assisting visitors at two health facilities in Ostend and Liege on Monday.

Pepper launched to great fanfare in Japan exactly a year ago, with the first batch of 1,000 units snapped up in just 60 seconds. The creation of Japanese telecom giant SoftBank and French robotics company Aldebaran SAS, the robot is being marketed as an assistant for businesses and also as a companion for families and those living alone.

Standing 120-cm tall, Pepper can converse in a number of languages and also communicate via its torso-based tablet. And thanks to a set of wheels, it’s mobile too, though admittedly stairs still pose a bit of a problem.

In the Liege hospital you’ll find Pepper hanging out in the reception area, welcoming visitors, helping with simple inquiries, and giving directions. In the Ostend hospital, however, it has a little more freedom, accompanying visitors to the appropriate department if asked.

In its basic form, Pepper costs around $1,850. The hospital version, however, comes with a hefty $34,000 price tag. This is down to its specially designed software, created by Belgian firm Zora Bots, and also the help desk services provided by the company should any issues arise when bot the bot’s on duty.

If Pepper sticks around long enough, it might one day find itself working alongside another medical-focused bot, Robear. Also from Japan, this larger, clunkier robot is designed for more heavy-duty tasks, namely lifting patients in and out of bed, or helping them move between sitting and standing positions. Engineers last year released the third prototype, with each new version lighter and displaying greater functionality. Its bear-like face is showing signs of improvement, too.

As for Pepper, DT had a chance to meet the robot at Mobile World Congress earlier this year – you can check out the amusing encounter here.

Home Theater

Google Chromecast returns to Amazon just in time for the holiday shopping crunch

It's been a chilly few years between Google and Amazon, but things may be improving. You can now buy two versions of Google's Chromecast on Amazon, something that hasn't be possible since 2015.

Does Qualcomm's latest laptop processor hold up against Intel's Core i5?

Qualcomm has been nipping at Intel's mobile CPU heels for years and now it might finally have overtaken it. To find out whether it's new SoC can hold its own in mid-range computing, we pitted the Snapdragon 8cx vs. Core i5.
Smart Home

A couple’s recalled dishwasher caught on fire — and now they’re warning others

A Wisconsin couple has been using the dishwasher in their house for a year, unaware that it was recalled in 2009. Then the appliance caught fire. Now they are warning others to check appliances for risks when buying or renting a home.

Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ becomes the most-streamed 20th-century song

Queen's iconic Bohemian Rhapsody has become the most-streamed 20th-century song. Knocking Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit off the top spot, the British band's 1975 classic has now been streamed 1.6 billion times globally.
Emerging Tech

There’s a new lab-grown meat startup on the block — and it has a secret weapon

Aleph Farms is developing lab-grown steaks with the same flavor, shape, texture, and structure as the real thing using beef cells isolated from living cows. Coming soon to a store near you?
Smart Home

This A.I.-enabled tech brings cutting-edge automation to grocery stores

Takeoff Technologies is working to make grocery deliveries fast, accurate, and convenient using A.I.-enabled technology to augment robotic grocery orders that can be completed in minutes.
Product Review

This was 3D printed? With the Anycubic Photon, you can't tell

Never mind the fact that the Anycubic Photon 3D printer only costs 500 bucks. In terms of sheer print quality, this printer is on the same level as machines that cost six times as much.
Emerging Tech

The best 3D printers of 2018

On the hunt for a new 3D printer? We've got your back. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned veteran, this list of the best 3D printers has what you're looking for.
Emerging Tech

Postmates’ to roll out Minion-like autonomous delivery robots in 2019

Postmates is about to employ a cute little robot to work alongside its human delivery personnel. Called Serve, the wheel-based bot can carry items weighing up to 50 pounds and has a range of 30 miles.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Emerging Tech

Are e-cigarettes safe? Here’s what the most recent science says

Ecigarettes are widely regarded and advertised as a healthier alternative to cigarettes for people who are trying to kick the smoking habit. How safe are these cigarette alternatives? We went deep into the recent scientific literature to…
Emerging Tech

Thrill-seekers will be able to pilot themselves in a giant drone as soon as 2019

Want to hitch a ride on a giant drone? The startup Lift Aircraft is gearing up to let paying customers fly its 18-rotor giant drones over assorted scenic landscapes across the U.S.
Emerging Tech

CRISPR gene therapy regulates hunger, staves off severe obesity in mice

Researchers from UC San Francisco have demonstrated how CRISPR gene editing can be used to prevent severe obesity in mice, without making a single edit to the mouse's genome. Here's how.
Emerging Tech

Capture app saves money by 3D scanning objects using iPhone’s TrueDepth camera

Capture is a new iPhone app created by the Y Combinator-backed startup Standard Cyborg. It allows anyone to perform 3D scans of objects and share them with buddies. Here's how it works.