Not even the quickest pistol drawer from the wild west could have ever stand a chance against the Janken robotic hand at rock-paper-scissors, the favorite game for settling who needs to get out and buy beer.
Developed by Ishikawa Oku Laboratory at the University of Tokyo, the Janken robot, which is the name of the game in Japanese, can best any human opponent, but it’s not because it can read minds, it’s because of science! The robot’s dirty secret lies in its set-up, which also consists of a very fast 1000 frames per second camera. Practically, this camera, coupled with the robot’s extremely capable motion recognition software, can anticipate your next micro-twist of a muscle faster than you can blink. To be more precise, it only needs one millisecond, a thousand of a second, to figure out what shape your hand is going to take next.
Of course, the robot is not all about show and tell. It demonstrates that such an installation, for an assembly line for instance, can save a worker from getting injured or recognize speech before you even get the chance to utter. Yes, this is amazing.
Tibi is a science journalist and co-founder of ZME Science. He writes mainly about emerging tech, physics, climate, and space. In his spare time, Tibi likes to make weird music on his computer and groom felines.