This Agency Taught a Robot to Find Waldo

Work demonstrates the capabilities of Google's AutoML

The robot points to all Waldo images on the page that are a match of 95 percent or higher. - Credit by redpepper
Headshot of Erik Oster

Even artificial intelligence can’t resist Where’s Waldo.

Nashville and Atlanta-based agency redpepper programmed a robot to find the ubiquitous-yet-elusive stripe-clad bespectacled world traveler.

Using AutoML, it took approximately a week for Matt Reed, creative technologist at redpepper’s innovation lab, to program the “There’s Waldo” robot to scan pages and find Waldo. According to a press release, Reed had never used the program before the project. You can check out “There’s Waldo” in action below.

The project showcases redpepper’s innovation offerings in a fun, lighthearted way. Some of the agency’s other projects include bringing the Slack bot to life with a Slack-connected Roomba and a “Mission MoonPie” VR game. In addition to Slack, the agency’s client roster includes Cracker Barrel, Franke, Kirkland and Claire’s.

“New technologies can be unapproachable, and irrelevant by extension, to many people,” Reed told Adweek. “So between client work, we use our innovation lab as a way to learn ahead of the curve and show our work in fun ways just to demonstrate what’s possible.”

To bring the idea to life, the agency equipped a Raspberry Pi-controlled uArm Swift Pro with a visual camera kit allowing for facial recognition. The camera takes a photo of the page and uses OpenCV to find Waldo faces, which are then sent to Google’s AutoML Vision service for analysis. The robot points to all Waldo images on the page that are a match of 95 percent or higher. Certain pages, then, will presumably have a series of false positives for Waldo look-a-likes, but it’s still a pretty neat trick.

@ErikDOster Erik Oster is an agencies reporter for Adweek.
Publish date: August 13, 2018 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT