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Sophia the robot makes her Johannesburg debut

The world’s most advanced human-like interactive robot has made her debut on South African shores.

Sophia, a humanoid robot that has addressed the United Nations General Assembly, was the star at SAP NOW, a two-day interactive knowledge-sharing showcase of the latest breakout technologies hosted by SAP Africa.

Sophia is an innovation by Hanson Robotics, and the company’s most famous and advanced robot featuring remarkable expressiveness, aesthetics and interactivity. Since making her debut in March 2016, she has graced the cover of Elle Magazine, and has been a guest of multiple TV shows including CBS 60 Minutes, the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Good Morning Britain. A featurette of Sophia by CNBC garnered more than 6.5 million views on YouTube and elicited more than two billion engagements on social media.

“Sophia is a shining example of what is possible when innovation and ambition meets exponential technologies such as AI,” says Cathy Smith, Managing Director of SAP Africa. “As we look toward a new tool set of breakout technologies to solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges and achieve the ambitions of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, innovations such as Sophia will be instrumental in inspiring a new wave of innovators, disruptors and digital champions.”

Sophia can animate more than 60 facial expressions including smiling, frowning, anger, disgust, confusion and happiness. Built-in cameras enable her to track people’s eyes and faces to maintain eye contact and build rapport with people, while advanced AI capabilities and voice recognition, along with scripts and chat bots enable her to hold natural conversation with her human counterparts.

Sophia joined Smith on stage for an interactive conversation on Thursday 30 August before the rest of the SAP NOW program kicked off. The event followed the theme of Tomorrow is Already Here and focused on innovation, with a view to showcasing how the best run businesses help the world run better through innovative use of technology.

With topics ranging from ‘Let’s map, build and inspire a future we all want to live in’ to ‘The Journey to the Intelligent Enterprise’, SAP NOW was designed to encourage a collective learning experience while unveiling top industry innovations and sharing the latest knowledge and industry know-how.

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