One, two, three! Anyone who’s ever played a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors knows that sometimes you win, sometimes you lose and sometimes you tie. That’s true if you’re playing against a human, but Japanese scientists have developed a version of a robot that will beat you at the zero-sum hand game every time.
The Janken robot hasn’t lost a single round since it was developed by researchers at the University of Tokyo’s Ishikawa Watanabe Laboratory in 2013. The first version of the robotic hand used a high-speed vision system to quickly recognize the formation of either a rock, paper or scissors in the human hand and would react almost immediately so as to flash a winning hand every time. Imperceptible to us, there was a lag of about 20 milliseconds between the time of the finished shape of the human hand and the final shape of the robot hand.
Version 2 of the robot improved on the original, with the final shape of the robot hand completed almost the same time as the human hand.
Now, researchers have just released a third version of Janken, and this one supposedly works even better (though it's hard to argue with a 100 percent success rate) because it incorporates high-speed tracking technologies called "1ms Auto Pan-Tilt" and "Lumipen 2" to extend the robot’s field of view.
"The inclusion of these technologies additionally enables the system to dynamically track the human hand and recognize its shape in high speed, regardless of where it moves, as well as improves the synchronization between the motion of the robot hand and that of the human hand,” the researchers said.
The research isn’t all about fun and games, however. The scientists suggest that the technology can be applied to more practical tasks, such as collaborative and cooperative work between humans and robots.