Bristol-based GWS Robotics discovered that people interact with robots longer when talking about wine whilst at the Pepper World Paris 2017 conference – an annual event dedicated to the use of the Pepper humanoid robots (pictured right) in business.
“I think it’s only a matter of time before Pepper becomes a more regular part of marketing and client service for a wide range of companies”
These conference insights came after a period of customer-robot engagement at Carrefour supermarkets – a large European convenience store chain – which revealed that, while talking about wine attracted less interest overall, it kept people’s attention longer.
GWS’s Creative Director David Graves, a Cambridge University graduate who has worked as a computer programmer for nearly two decades, says: “This shows that interactive social robot applications that offer information on subjects of personal interest to visitors can be a valuable way to attract and retain customers’ attention.
“I think it’s only a matter of time before Pepper becomes a more regular part of marketing and client service for a wide range of companies in the retail, banking, tourism and hospitality sectors.”
Carling Knight, Forensic Computing and Security Graduate and Developer at GWS who also attended the conference, adds: “I enjoy working with Pepper and this event helped me to learn more about his functions and, perhaps more importantly, what he may be able to do in the future.”
Service robots of the future
The £20,000 robot, which is capable of ‘recognising human emotions,’ has worked in hospitals, companies, schools and homes in Japan. But it has only recently become available in the UK with GWS Robotics being one of the first to work with them in the South West.
“There is a business application for Pepper in the South West”
It’s believed that these clever robots could play a key role in the service industry in the UK, with companies such as GWS Robotics leading the way in programming them to do so.
David explains: “When it comes to developing our own custom applications for Pepper, we now have a clearer body of evidence to draw from regarding the kinds of information content and interactive routines that engage members of the public most effectively when they meet the robot.
“Wherever customers may have to wait to be served, wherever people may want information delivered in an entertaining way, and wherever injecting a little technological novelty could be a talking point and an attraction to footfall, there is a business application for Pepper in the South West. Everything from banks, offices, car showrooms and home improvement showrooms to hotels, museums and tourist information offices could benefit from deploying the quirky, friendly robot using custom-programmed applications created by GWS.”
You can find out more about what Pepper has been up to in Bristol on the GWS Robotics website or by following them on Twitter here: @gwsrobotics. You can also meet Pepper at the What If festival in Bristol this weekend.