Did you know: the world's first robot-staffed smartphone store is about to open in Japan


Apparently, late 80s science fiction movies got something right – that by year 2020, we'll have robot clerks taking jobs away from qualified human personnel. Uh oh, why can't we have all those other nice things instead, like teleports and such? Ah, well, here's hoping these will eventually come, too. Interim, check this out – Softbank, Japanese telecom and owner of US carrier Sprint, is about to open a smartphone store in Japan that's fully staffed with its Pepper robots. Described as a "little experiment", the store will have its customers attended to by the friendly humanoids, which will be able to assist them much like breathing, fleshy beings would – giving directions, helping with purchase advice, and cracking jokes on occasion.

The Pepper robots will be also able to sign up contracts and create data plans. There's even a hierarchy of sort, with robots performing the roles of managers, specialists, and "time killers" - we're not quite sure what those specimes will be up to, but we can sardonically presume they will try to sell you plans and accessories you don't really need right now.

You might be missing a bit of knowledge on Pepper, the very robot in charge of the occasion, so let us key you in on the important matters. Pepper was developed by french robotics company Aldebaran Robotics in partnership with Softbank. It's a humanoid robot whose main schtick isn't awkwardly climbing a set of stairs, but rather the ability to read human emotions. For this task, Pepper is equipped with four microphones, two HD cameras, and a depth sensor – along with some software wizardry for voice and facial recognition, of course!
The people-friendly robot is pretty popular in Japan and is already present in establishments such as Miziho bank branches and Nescafe outlets, acting as a sort of information kiosk and entertainer. Waiting in line is better when you have a funny robotic pal, right? That aside, there are some economical considerations to ponder. From an employer's perspective, a Pepper robot worker comes at a $1,670 one-time investment, followed by an optional $125 monthly service plan. Compare that to the expenses of handling workers' salary, and the long-term future for clerks appears bleak.

The Pepper robot store is about to open on March 28 and will remain operational for a limited time. We can't know for sure what Sprint aims to achieve with its "little experiment", but the outcome is going to be interesting for sure! If you happen to waltz in there by chance and you speak English, do tell us about your experience!

source: Engadget

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11 Comments

1. UglyFrank

Posts: 2193; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

And so it begins

2. CoastCity

Posts: 257; Member since: Mar 07, 2014

Hire some people that need a job to live, stupid companies. They are friendlier to other people too. And they don't say all the time "I don't understand the question"

3. LetsBeHonest

Posts: 1548; Member since: Jun 04, 2013

Uhhh that's a kind thing to do but this is the future. Future seems extremely technically advanced with many jobless people :P

4. Dee79

Posts: 307; Member since: Jun 19, 2014

Are you saying people are friendlier to people than robots looooool. Yes I agree give the jobs to people that need them but come on, People are rude and disrespectful.

6. Nathan_ingx

Posts: 4769; Member since: Mar 07, 2012

Letter of recommendation, resumés and such exist for this type of purpose. For the company to find the right person for the job. If this becomes mainstream, we'll soon find ourselves in one of the futuristic movies of the past.

9. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

just for some quick confirmation, try to give middle finger or spit to their face to check which one is friendlier, lol

10. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

well, making all those robot also make a job for engineer, scientist, and factory worker.. whats the big deal? :-/

11. darksantacruz

Posts: 27; Member since: Jun 09, 2014

At this moment yes but in the future robots will built robots and then we will see... For me these are bad bad news for humans.

5. downphoenix

Posts: 3165; Member since: Jun 19, 2010

Soon enough the 1% will have no need for us. I wonder what will happen then...

7. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

Slowly moving up the replacement chain...engineers are safe for now, but I wonder for how long before we design something that outsmarts us in designing.

8. drifter77

Posts: 400; Member since: Jun 12, 2015

Sigh... we are still light-years away from colonizing other planets.

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