Nestle hiring 1 000 robots as clerks

3389274228The first batch of the robots – a chatty humanoid called Pepper – will report to work by the end of this year at outlets that sell coffee capsules and home espresso machines.

“From December, they will start selling coffee machines for us at big retail stores,” said Nestle Japan spokeswoman Miki Kano.

“We are sure that our customers will enjoy shopping and being entertained by robots.”

Pepper – which has already been at work, chatting with customers at wireless giant SoftBank’s outlets – has proved an effective marketing tool for the Japanese mobile carrier, delighting managers who put it to work collecting customer opinions.

The 120-centimetre (four-foot) tall robot, which moves on rollers and has what looks like a tablet computer strapped to its chest, was unveiled in June by SoftBank president Masayoshi Son.

He billed it as an “emotional” robot that understands “70 to 80 percent of spontaneous conversations”.

Pepper is set to go on the market from February for about $2 000 (R21 700) apiece. – Sapa-AFP

Microsoft Rolls Out Facebook-Friendly Bing Bar 7

Yes, Another toolbar! And yes, Microsoft has linked up its new Bing Bar 7 with Facebook. Microsoft figures it can do better than all the toolbars that came before with its Bing Bar 7, which works only with Internet Explorer 7, 8 or 9. Is it useful?

If you haven’t tried Microsoft’s Bing Bar in any of its earlier iterations, it’s a toolbar with little app-like conveniences. The new Bing Bar 7 again brings that variety of applets to the top of your browser, where with one click you can indulge in its new claim to fame: checking your Facebook feed. It shows your newsfeed, friend requests and even gives you a pleasant-looking grid of your friends’ shared photos. Read more