Table tennis has been around for at least 130 years and is played by people of varying skill levels all over the world. According to Gizmodo, a new futuristic table can help players take their ping pong game to the next level.
For his bachelor's degree thesis, Thomas Mayer designed an interactive table that uses projection mapping and a custom interface that allows players to keep track of their training schedule and scores. The table offers training exercises and tracks ball movement so players can study the data visualizations on their individual dashboard to improve their performance.
On his website, Mayer explains that "project resolution, layout of the interface and arrangement of buttons" were the biggest issues he faced while designing the projections for the table. "After several tests I installed two Playstation CL-eye cameras and a full HD projector to work on the tracking of the pin ping ball and processing of the collected data," he wrote.
We asked our resident ping pong champion (and IT whiz) Jacob Kim what he thought about the tech after watching the video above and checking out Mayer's project. "Pretty awesome idea! But tricky," Kim said. "Light is such an important factor that I wouldn't know how to deal with the darkness of the playing area as a training environment. Most times, coaches teach to look at the ball for spins, and you learn that intuitively as you are practice. I can see the benefit for service training for sure."
Rachel Kim, a table tennis coach at Queensborough Community College and a former member of the South Korean national team, also weighed in on the project. "This would be really good for a novice player because it would teach hitting the ball to a specific spot," she said. "However, it might mess up the [player's] form or steps, which are huge portion of advancing the game without an actual coach."
As a prototype for a thesis project, Mayer's smart table system is not available for purchase at the moment, but it does look like an interesting and potentially useful way to learn more about how the classic game should be played. Just don't expect the table to turn you into the next Forrest Gump overnight.
Images via Vimeo