SoftBank also has received between 300 and 400 inquiries about Pepper from companies in finance, food service and education, Fumihide Tomizawa, chief executive officer of SoftBank Robotics, said yesterday. The 1.2 meter (4 foot) robot dances, makes jokes and estimates human emotions based on expressions. Pepper will go in sale in Japan in February for 198,000 yen ($1,900) while the company hasn't set a U.S. price.
SoftBank, which paid $22 billion for control of Sprint last year, is investing in robotics as Japan seeks to double the value of domestic production to 2.41 trillion yen by 2020. SoftBank has developed an operating system that controls robots in the same way Google Inc.'s Android software runs smartphones, with the platform open to customization for use in construction, health care and entertainment industries.
"We will sell Pepper in the United States within a year after gathering information in Japan," Tomizawa said. "I won't be surprised if Pepper sales will be half to business and half to consumers."
SoftBank Robotics was established as a subsidiary in July to direct the company's business and sell Pepper, which is equipped with a laser sensor and 12 hours of battery life.