The internet of things is supposed to be the future, even if it’s just a way to monetize the monotonous. So now everything is “smart.” There are smart watches, smart mattresses, and now, a smart ping pong table.
Interaction designer Thomas Mayer developed the Table Tennis Trainer as part of his bachelor’s degree thesis. What originally started as a way to track the path of a ping pong ball in real time morphed into a bigger project that incorporated a variety of different data visualizations. Using an HD projector, the data is displayed on the table. There is a dashboard that allows a player to see his stats and training modes to help practice specific shots. In the two-player mode, there are different gameplay options that add challenges to a traditional match.
It’s a unique concept but it also feels a bit much. At the risk of sounding like a crotchety old man, there wasn’t really a problem with the traditional way of playing table tennis that needed fixing. Outside of perhaps Olympic competitors, it’s hard to imagine who this would be useful to. But perhaps I’m underestimating the number of players out there who want the game to feel more like a combination of Tron and a rave.