Meet Pepper – the robocop who reminds you to wear a mask

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Pepper Robocop Image
Pepper reminds the people to wear the much needed masks in the times of pandemic.

Forgetting your mask while stepping out, even though it has become an everyday necessity?

SoftBank owned Pepper is the new cute robocop in town who will remind you to wear a mask.

Pepper can detect whether people are wearing a mask to protect themselves against COVID-19 and, if not, politely remind them to wear one.

The feature is an upgrade to Pepper, a 120 cm (47 inch) high robot with human-like features. It is already in operation in some countries but for a different function.

Pepper was earlier designed to welcome visitors to exhibitions, shops and other public spaces.

Using artificial intelligence and Single Shot Detector image recognition, Pepper can scan the faces of up to five people at once.

A green circle will appear on the Pepper tablet around the image of someone wearing a mask, and a red circle will appear around the image of someone without a mask.

Pepper will thank people for putting on a mask after being reminded.

Jonathan Boiria, European sales manager for SoftBank Robotics, the company behind Pepper, says that the idea is not to have a robot police officer to check whether people are wearing masks, but to give a friendly reminder.

No personal data is used or stored, according to SoftBank Robotics, and the system can even work with masks which have complex patterns and color schemes.

Pepper is also capable of providing daily analytics, including the percentage of people complying with mask requirements.

SoftBank hopes that Pepper’s newest capabilities will help companies as they begin to reopen. While Pepper’s previous tasks have been somewhat cutesy, it could give the robot a new level of responsibility to help companies enforce face mask rules.