Billionaire Masayoshi Son will start selling his humanoid robots named “Pepper” at Sprint Corp. (S) stores in the U.S. by next summer, part of SoftBank Corp.‘s push to take the technology beyond factory floors.
SoftBank also has received between 300 and 400 inquiries about Pepper from companies in finance, food service and education, Fumihide Tomizawa, chief executive officer of SoftBank Robotics, said yesterday. The 1.2 meter (4 foot) robot dances, makes jokes and estimates human emotions based on expressions. Pepper will go in sale in Japan in February for 198,000 yen ($1,900) while the company hasn’t set a U.S. price.
SoftBank, which paid $22 billion for control of Sprint last year, is investing in robotics as Japan seeks to double the value of domestic production to 2.41 trillion yen by 2020. SoftBank has developed an operating system that controls robots in the same way Google Inc.’s Android software runs smartphones, with the platform open to customization for use in construction, health care and entertainment industries.
“We will sell Pepper in the United States within a year after gathering information in Japan,” Tomizawa said. “I won’t be surprised if Pepper sales will be half to business and half to consumers.”
SoftBank Robotics was established as a subsidiary in July to direct the company’s business and sell Pepper, which is equipped with a laser sensor and 12 hours of battery life.
Shares (9984) of SoftBank rose 1.3 percent to 7,541 yen at the close of trade in Tokyo. The stock has declined 18 percent this year while the benchmark Topix index is little changed.
The robot was initially targeted at families and the elderly before getting attention for business use since its June unveiling.
Tomizawa declined to specify the company’s sales targets for robotics. SoftBank expects to generate revenue through applications and original content as customers personalize their robots.
“The basic premise is to produce profit,” Tomizawa said. “Son is aggressively involved in the project and we report to him one or two times a month.”
Son said in 2010 his vision was to create a society that coexists with intelligent robots. The SoftBank chairman has said Pepper is a result of his time spent watching the TV show “Astro Boy,” an animated 1960s series based on a character who couldn’t experience emotions.
In July, Son said he expects to improve labor productivity by replacing 90 million jobs with 30 million robots.
“We could enter the robot business for industrial use in the mid or long term,” Tomizawa said.
Pepper was initially developed by SoftBank subsidiary Aldebaran Robotics SA. The robot operating system, which isn’t currently used by Pepper, was developed by its Asratec Corp. division. The businesses continue to operate as separate units of SoftBank.
SoftBank’s development of robots comes as Google acquired robotics companies, including Schaft Inc., a Tokyo-based maker of two-legged humanoid robots. Other robot makers include Honda Motor Co. (7267), which has the soccer-playing Asimo, and Panasonic Corp. (6752), which created Hospi-R machines to deliver medicines to patients in hospitals.
Scientists have created a technique which can cause cancer cells to self-destruct by injecting them with salt.
Researchers from the University of Southampton are part of an international team that has helped to create a molecule that can cause cancer cells to die by carrying sodium and chloride ions into the cells.
Synthetic ion transporters have been created before but this is the first time researchers have demonstrated how an influx of salt into a cell triggers cell death.
These synthetic ion transporters, described this week in the journal Nature Chemistry, could point the way to new anti-cancer drugs while also benefiting patients with cystic fibrosis.
“This work shows how chloride transporters can work with sodium channels in cell membranes to cause an influx of salt into a cell. We found we can trigger cell death with salt,” said study co-author Professor Philip Gale, of the University of Southampton.
Cells in the human body work hard to maintain a stable concentration of ions inside their cell membranes. Disruption of this delicate balance can trigger cells to go through apoptosis, known as programmed cell death, a mechanism the body uses to rid itself of damaged or dangerous cells.
One way of destroying cancer cells is to trigger this self-destruct sequence by changing the ion balance in cells.
Unfortunately, when a cell becomes cancerous, it changes the way it transports ions across its cell membrane in a way that blocks apoptosis.
The researchers have overcome this by developing the synthetic way for transporting the ions but unfortunately this also destroys healthy cells which would have to be overcome for it to be useful in treating cancer.
Prof Jonathan Sessler, at Austin’s College of Natural Sciences at the University of Texas, said: “We have thus closed the loop and shown that this mechanism of chloride influx into the cell by a synthetic transporter does indeed trigger apoptosis.
“This is exciting because it points the way towards a new approach to anti-cancer drug development.”
Is at The Other McCain, where Stacy McCain writes about the Pill, sex, science, nature, and other things. there is a lot to digest, and I am not sure I completely agree with all of his summations, but if you are in the mood to think, go read this piece
Yale scientists have successfully used an arthritis medication to fully regrow the head and body hair of a almost totally hairless 25-year-old man.
Researchers administered the drug tofacitinib citrate to the unnamed patient, who suffered from the autoimmune baldness disease alopecia universalis.
Within eight months, the man had regrown scalp and facial hair he’d not had in seven years.
‘The results are exactly what we hoped for,’ said Brett A. King, M.D., senior author of the paper, published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. ‘This is a huge step forward in the treatment of patients with this condition.’
Unbelievable: Yale University researchers correctly guessed that a rheumatoid arthritis drug called Xeljanz could successfully regrow hair in a patient with the autoimmune disease alopecia universalis, which causes hairlessness over the whole body. This 25-year-old took the drug and by the end of eight months had all the hair back on his head, body and face that he hadn’t had in years
Huge success: The drug had successfully been used before on plaque psoriasis, which the 25-year-old Yale patient also exhibited, but had never been used to treat alopecia in humans
The man was referred to Yale Dermatology in New Haven, Connecticut to deal with an autoimmune disease that coincided with his alopecia, plaque psoriasis, according to a department news release.
Believing both his ailments could be alleviated with the same drug, researchers administered tofacitinib, made by Pfizer under the brand name Xeljanz, which is already FDA approved for the autoimmune disease rheumatoid arthritis.
According to Science World Report, the drug had successfully been used to treat psoriasis in people and alopecia in mice.
But the results were nonetheless shocking.
Photos of the man show him go from totally bald on top of his head to sporting a lustrous mane of blond locks.
‘There are no good options for long-term treatment of alopecia universalis,’ said King. ‘The best available science suggested this might work, and it has.’
The patient took 10mg per day for two months followed by 15mg per day for another three months.
By the end, he’d completely regrown scalp hair, developed eyebrows, eyelashes and facial hair, armpit hair and other hair.
‘By eight months there was full regrowth of hair,’ said co-author Brittany G. Craiglow, M.D. ‘The patient has reported feeling no side effects, and we’ve seen no lab test abnormalities, either.’
According to King, scientists believe the drug works by turning off the immune attack on hair follicles.
The authors said the drug helps in some but not all instances of psoriasis.