Humanoid assistants called ‘Pepper’ are being trialled at Belgian hospitals in Ostend and Liege and are employed to greet and interact with visitors.

‘Pepper’ uses cameras and sensors to detect human emotions, can interact in 20 languages, and features a display screen on its chest. The software developers claim these are the first robot in the world to be used ‘to greet people in a medical setting’.

The units cost $23,000 each, which is not far off the salary for medical receptionist, but I don’t think that’s the point, or the goal.

In 2015, Nescafe hired 1,000 Pepper robots to work in home appliance stores across Japan to help customers looking for a Nespresso coffee machine.