Pepper robot from SoftBank Robotics

Pepper robot from SoftBank Robotics

Mizuho Bank plans to use a new robotics platform developed by IBM Research-Tokyo for the bank’s customer service-oriented robots.

IBM says its researchers are developing new technologies that will “benefit” Mizuho’s Robotics platform by tapping into Watson’s (IBM’s cognitive technology) language and other capabilities to provide a “smoother human/robot interaction and to enable collaboration between two or more robots”.

Beginning in May, Mizuho Bank will deploy this platform on Pepper robots from SoftBank Robotics across local branches in Japan.

The robots will interact with bank customers and analyse information from the Mizuho Bank website as well as customer-specific information to offer “more personalised customer interactions, allowing bank employees to focus on higher value tasks”.

IBM says Pepper’s physical characteristics, “complemented by Watson’s natural language processing capabilities”, will allow bank customers to have a natural conversation during which their words as well as their gestures and expressions, are understood.

Nobuhide Hayashi, CEO and president, Mizuho Bank, says it wants to keep “exploring new technologies such as cognitive computing to continually improve our client experience”.

Incubation and innovation

Mizuho Bank established its Incubation Department in April 2014 to develop new technologies.

For example, it says it will eventually use insights from Watson’s cognitive services to improve mobile app and ATM services.

In October 2015, IBM Research-Tokyo established the Cognitive Robot Innovation Lab (CRIL) to explore and develop new robotics technologies.

CRIL has combined cognitive systems, like IBM Watson, with robots to “encourage industry innovation”, allowing robots to analyse, perceive and learn information to have more natural interactions with humans.

Now in its 70th year, IBM Research has more than 3,000 researchers in 12 labs located across six continents.