A lighter update: Pepper the Robot’s comeback at San Diego State University–now AI-equipped for mental health

Our old friend Pepper and sidekick Bernard are back…this time with AI. A new research initiative at San Diego State University’s James Silberrad Brown Center for Artificial Intelligence (JSBAIC) is equipping Pepper (left, SDSU photo) and Bernard (right, file photo) with AI capabilities targeted to early recognition of mental health concerns.  The JSBAIC, with the help of a $5 million grant from the James Silberrad Brown Foundation, has already equipped Pepper with functionality that can recognize changes in emotional states, such as speech patterns, voice pitch, or even eye pupils. The purpose would be to assist clinicians with a robotic early warning system for a potential mental health episode. JSBAIC researchers are working with Sharp HealthCare in San Diego (also a beneficiary of the Brown Foundation) in a clinical trial focusing on children with bipolar disorder. The JSBAIC is a spinoff from SDSU’s Fowler School of Business’ Management Information Systems area. JSBAIC interview with NBC San Diego, Daily Aztec  Hat tip to HIStalk 6/19/24

Pepper and Bernard were originally created by Aldebaran Robotics (now Softbank). TTA has been following their development since at least 2016 when tested as robotic greeters at the Ostend, Belgium AZ Damiaan hospital. Softbank is actively marketing Pepper for uses in healthcare, education, hospitality, banking, and retail. Bernard (NAO) is a personal teaching assistant. Pepper has also appeared before the House of Commons select committee on education [left, TTA 25 Oct 2018] to mixed reviews and earlier fainted during a star turn at CES.




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