A Queensland team whose app can turn a robot into a travel advisor has brought home second prize from a global tech challenge held in Tokyo in late 2017.

Queensland start-up Travics was the only non-Japanese team to make it to the final round in the Pepper App Challenge 2017, beating hundreds of other teams to win equal second place.

The Pepper App Challenge is run by Japanese technology giant SoftBank, and involves teams from around the world developing apps for SoftBank’s Pepper humanoid robot platform.

The Travics team, made up of students and graduates from QUT and Queensland University, developed an app incorporating emotion recognition, machine learning and the Internet of Things.

Their Travel Dreams app enables Pepper to give customers information about travel destinations, activities and tours; show videos of other travellers and their stories; and gather customer feedback and in-store analytics for travel agents.

The Travics team qualified for Tokyo after participating in QUT’s bluebox Robotics Accelerator program, which gives local robotics start-ups a chance to work with industry mentors and develop entrepreneurial skills.

Travics won the Pepper Robotics section of bluebox, receiving $15,000 and entry into the global competition in Japan.

For their success in Tokyo, they received a prize of 100,000 yen (around $1,160) and the chance to work with SoftBank towards launching their app in the USA in conjunction with SoftBank’s US partner company.

The SoftBank Group is one of Japan’s largest companies, employing 63,000 people globally across its technology and internet business.

SoftBank established its first Australian robotics studio last year at the Precinct in Fortitude Valley, after an invitation from the Queensland Government.

Attracting foreign direct investment to Queensland and supporting Queensland start-ups are key actions identified in the Queensland Trade and Investment Strategy 2017–2022.

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