Pepper Officially Hired at Harajuku's Futuristic Nescafe

posted on by Eric Stimson
Gackt, drone also involved

Pepper, a robot designed to do housework, and the popular singer Gackt (Sket Dance, New Fist of the North Star) appeared at a revamped Nescafe branch in Harajuku, Tokyo on September 16 to promote the cafe of the future. The centerpiece of the cafe will be Nescafe's new Drop coffee machine, which uses a touch screen to brew coffee. It is modeled after the splash made after a single drop of coffee falls. Several Drops are available inside the cafe to let customers choose and brew their own coffee or tea. It includes rare varieties like Iced Cappuccino and Uji Matcha, which is normally sold only in Hokkaido.

Drop's sleek, modern design represents Nestle's attempt to update coffee brewing, and other aspects of the cafe also promote this theme. Pepper will serve customers, answer their questions, and advise them on which coffee to choose. A Drop-like drone will buzz around the room. At a hands-on corner, customers can interact with a robot similar to Drop that appears via projection mapping every 30 minutes.

The head of Nestlé Japan's Coffee Systems Business division, Kensuke Ōtani, explained that he wanted to "stop the old practice of putting [the coffee machine] in a sorry corner. In a certain way, [Drop] is the most futuristic, advanced machine." He said that Pepper and a drone were included because people "have heard of them, but few have actually seen them."

Gackt (Sket Dance, New Fist of the North Star) claimed that five years ago, he didn't drink coffee, but had since grown so attached to it that he is particular about the variety and grinds his own beans. Yet he admitted that Drop's coffee was better than his own, both in taste and smell. He also praised Drop's design, claiming that previously appliances had been "mechanically cold and lacking a sense of design."

The Nescafe presentation will last until September 23, but will close on September 19; after 6 PM, the cafe will revert to a regular cafe. Drop will receive its own image song and music video in late November. Gackt's new album, which is set for a March release, will also include a song only available for download by Nestlé members.

Pepper has previously appeared serving coffee as a barista in Nescafe Harajuku in a SoftBank hackathon. Pepper's upcoming commercial release has been accompanied by concern that it might be used for sex, largely because an app has been developed that lets users sexually harass it.

[Via Travel Watch]

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