There's Waldo robot finds Waldo faster than you can

But only if you're slower at it than a 5-year-old.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser

For a guy wearing a gaudy peppermint-stripe shirt and hat, Waldo (Wally for those of you in the UK) is surprisingly hard to find. 

If you're one of those people who has trouble tracking down the illustrated book character, you'll appreciate There's Waldo, a robot that does the hard work for you.

There's Waldo comes from US creative agency Redpepper, which posted a video of the machine in action on Wednesday. The robot harnesses Google's Cloud AutoML Vision service in the form of an AI trained to spot Waldo's distinctive features.

A robot hand actually points out the Where's Waldo hiding place on the pages of a book. As with many robot hands, the pale, rubbery thing is a little unsettling to look at.

The prototype robot is controlled by a Raspberry Pi computer. The arm extends and snaps a photo of the illustration. It then marks out all the faces in the image and sends them to Google's service. If the AI is 95 percent confident of a match, it triggers the robot hand to reach out and touch Waldo.

Redpepper says the fastest Where's Waldo match so far took just 4.45 seconds, which the agency says would beat the times of most 5-year-olds. It would probably best the times of a lot of adults, too.

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