176 – Steve Carlin of SoftBank Robotics America – Robot Retail

Robots in retail, elder care and home use with SoftBank Robotics…

Steve Carlin, VP and GM of SoftBank Robotics America (the worldwide leader in humanoid robotics, making and marketing humanoid and programmable robots) – (bio), joins Pavan Bahl, Marc Raco , Rob Sanchez and guest host Brian Laney (VP of Retail at Alert Tech) at the Alert Tech booth at NRF Big Show.

A robot in every home, an advantage with autism, and animation and durability

Carlin discusses how SoftBank appropriated the French based company Aldebaran Robotics, his “classically-trained CPG background” and work as Global Head of Strategy of Gaming Business for Facebook, the robot “Nao” for teaching and education, how CEO Masayoshi Son wanted to put a robot in everybody’s home and jointly created the new robot “Pepper” with Aldebaran, originally designed for SoftBank mobility stores. The energy, presence, and theatrics of NRF, robots as a great brand ambassador, following any instruction to communicate brand message, and telling brand stories in new and different way. Advantages of robot with no facial cues, helps with teaching autistic people, focusing on the lesson instead of focusing on what teachers are thinking or feeling, the use of video, how Pepper handles service recover, non verbal cues given to robot to animate it to overcome some issues of disconnection from consumer, overcoming issues with WiFi connectivity and cultural communication input, partnering with Microsoft, and thinking through the animation of the robot relevant to specific culture. Concerns about the 6,000 parts of the robot and durability over time due to overzealous interaction, and people wanting to touch it.

Use cases, elder care, and ethics

How 10,000 units are a lot of use cases, customer profiles of users, coffee shops as potential use, Mastercard MasterPass as a partner, interesting dynamic of store associates, no one assumes Pepper is trying to sell anything so people will interact more. Impact of not remembering consumer in any personal way, how Siri and Alexa have made interacting with technology normal. Utilizing Pepper in elder care in Japan, and the ability to never get frustrated in elder care or health care. The ethics of not replacing things humans are good at, and how there are opportunities where robots do some things, humans do others. Calculating ROI comes from how technology can address specific issues. And considerations of security issues.

Games, stand-up comedy, and debates

Off the Grid Question covers Donkey Kong, geology, doing stand up routine, awe-inspiring moments, and winning and losing debates.

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