A ping pong robot at CES 2019 made me wonder: Could I go pro?


Simply your pleasant arachnid ping pong robotic.

Chris Monroe/CNET

I lastly realized I may’ve been an expert ping pong participant. However tragically, it is too late for me now.

I’ve good motive to imagine in my ping pong abilities, because of Forpheus, a robotic I met this week at CES in Las Vegas. Made by Omron, Forpheus first appeared at CES final yr to point out off its ping pong prowess. It is again this yr with an expanded vary of motion and enhanced prediction abilities.

After I inform folks I performed ping pong with a robotic this week, the very first thing they ask is: “Did you win?” I inform them that successful is not actually the purpose. Although if we might stored rating, I in all probability did.

The entire goal of Forpheus is to educate you on bettering your recreation. The robotic makes use of sensors in your bat (aka paddle) and 5 cameras to work out the place you might be and the way you are shifting. It performs utilizing a multi-axis robotic arm that may mimic human techniques resembling topspin. Suggestions arrives by way of voice and on a display screen, which affords recommendations on posture, positioning and swing. After only a five-minute session, I used to be questioning the place Forpheus had been all my life.

That is as a result of following our tutorial, Forpheus advised me that skill-wise I used to be 48 % just like an elite skilled participant. I do know what you are considering — 48 % is not that related. However keep in mind that I am within the worst form of my life and very off form. Think about if I might had this sort of suggestions 15 years in the past after I was in my ping pong prime.

Desk tennis was a low-key obsession for me as a younger teen in Manchester, England. I did not have a lot to do apart from smack a ball round day after day, all summer season lengthy. I used to be fairly rattling good and had a killer serve that threw off many an opponent.  

Now taking part in:
Watch this:

Human vs. robotic: I challenged Forpheus to a recreation of ping-pong


Again then, I am positive I’d’ve been nicely over 50 % just like an elite professional, because of my increased health stage and higher eyesight. And if Forpheus had existed again then, I’d’ve had a relentless competitor/coach to bump that proportion up increased and better. 

Even within the couple of minutes we had collectively this week, Forpheus gave me recommendations on the best way to enhance my type and picked up that I wrestle extra with my forehand. (My backhand is way stronger.)

Admittedly, Forpheus is not home pleasant, and it is not even on the market. It is extra of an illustration of robotics and sensor know-how. It additionally lurks over the ping pong table like a large mechanical tarantula, however that looks like a small value to pay for achievement on the sporting world stage.

Again in 2002, I watched table tennis champs compete within the Commonwealth Video games in Manchester. I used to be mesmerized by the ability and pace of the sport. It was a stage of sportsmanship that might be almost not possible for me to realize now. 

However because of Forpheus and different robotic coaches of the long run, possibly another fortunate child on the market will be capable to flip professional.

CES 2019: See all of CNET’s protection of the yr’s largest tech present.

Tech Enabled: CNET chronicles tech’s function in offering new sorts of accessibility. 

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