Dastardly Japanese Robot Wins “Rock, Paper, Scissors” 100% of the Time

By: | May 8th, 2014

Janken, an upstart robot at Tokyo University’s Ishikawa Oku Laboratory is, without a doubt, the best Rock, Paper, Scissors (“Jan, Ken, Pon” in Japanese) player in world history; the game came down to us from the ancient Egyptians so this is no easy accomplishment as kids and adults around the world play the game incessantly.

Like the best poker players, Janken keeps his cards close to his vest, but it’s not very easy to see how he does it. Knowing  robots as we do, of course, the explanation had to come down to some combination of sensors and software.

Janken, in fact, can see his opponent’s hand shape: rock, paper, or scissors, and just one thousandth of a second later, present his own winning hand. This all makes it impossible for Janken to lose. According to the designers of Janken, he is the fastest “Rock, Paper, Scissors” player not only in the world, but in world history.

The Ishikawa Oku Laboratory is run by Professor Ishikawa who teaches System Informatics at Tokyo University’s Graduate School of Information Science and Technology. Janken is designed for lightning fast image processing to recognize a hand shape milliseconds after it is captured by Janken’s camera.

The ability to design and engineer robots that can act in milliseconds is important in applications such as accident avoidance, virtual stock market trading and “jan, ken pon.”

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David Russell Schilling

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