Introducing Your New Holiday Shopping Assistant: Pepper the Robot

Smart technology is about to revolutionize the way we shop—and not just online. Two Bay Area malls, Westfield’s San Francisco Centre and Valley Fair mall, recently introduced customer service robots, whose main job is to survey shoppers about their experiences.

The robots, nicknamed Pepper, are a project by Japanese technology corporation SoftBank. And though their primary focus is collecting data via customer surveys, they have several more tricks up their (plastic) sleeves.

Pepper can also dance, take selfies with patrons, play games, and provide foreign language instruction (in case you’re the type that likes a side of education with your holiday shopping). It’s even being programmed to serve as an interactive mall directory, providing customers with directions to their favorite stores.

If the Bay Area Peppers prove successful, Shawn Pauli, Senior Vice President for the Westfield Property Group, says his company plans to bring Peppers to their World Trade Center and Paramus, New Jersey, shopping centers. (First introduced in 2014, Pepper is already a fixture at several retail stores and hotels in Japan.)

Steve Carlin, the general manager for SoftBank Robotics America, sees Pepper as a “unique way” of keeping customers informed and entertained as they navigate their local malls. As he told SFGate, “It’s approachable, not intimidating, with a humanoid face but not too human, engaging, but not off-putting.”

[h/t SFGATE]

Gergely Dudás - Dudolf, Facebook
There’s a Ghost Hiding in This Illustration—Can You Find It?
Gergely Dudás - Dudolf, Facebook
Gergely Dudás - Dudolf, Facebook

A hidden image illustration by Gergely Dudás, a.k.a. Dudolf
Gergely Dudás - Dudolf, Facebook

Gergely Dudás is at it again. The Hungarian illustrator, who is known to his fans as “Dudolf,” has spent the past several years delighting the internet with his hidden image illustrations, going back to the time he hid a single panda bear in a sea of snowmen in 2015. In the years since, he has played optical tricks with a variety of other figures, including sheep and Santa Claus and hearts and snails. For his latest brainteaser, which he posted to both his Facebook page and his blog, Dudolf is asking fans to find a pet ghost named Sheet in a field of white bunny rabbits.

As we’ve learned from his past creations, what makes this hidden image difficult to find is that it looks so similar to the objects surrounding it that our brains just sort of group it in as being “the same.” So you’d better concentrate.

If you’ve scanned the landscape again and again and can’t find Sheet to save your life, go ahead and click here to see where he’s hiding.

Afternoon Map
The Most Searched Shows on Netflix in 2017, By State

Orange is the New Black is the new black, at least as far as Netflix viewers are concerned. The women-in-prison dramedy may have premiered in 2013, but it’s still got viewers hooked. Just as they did in 2017, took a deep dive into Netflix analytics using Google Trends to find out which shows people in each state were searching Netflix for throughout the year. While there was a little bit of crossover between 2016 and 2017, new series like American Vandal and Mindhunter gave viewers a host of new content. But that didn’t stop Orange is the New Black from dominating the map; it was the most searched show in 15 states.

Coming in at a faraway second place was American Vandal, a new true crime satire that captured the attention of five states (Illinois, Kansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Wisconsin). Even more impressive is the fact that the series premiered in mid-September, meaning that it found a large and rabid audience in a very short amount of time.

Folks in Alaska, Colorado, and Oregon were all destined to be disappointed; Star Trek: Discovery was the most searched-for series in each of these states, but it’s not yet available on Netflix in America (you’ve got to get CBS All Access for that, folks). Fourteen states broke the mold a bit with shows that were unique to their state only; this included Big Mouth in Delaware, The Keepers in Maryland, The OA in Pennsylvania, GLOW in Rhode Island, and Black Mirror in Hawaii.

Check out the map above to see if your favorite Netflix binge-watch matches up with your neighbors'. For more detailed findings, visit


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