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# Automatic Ping-Pong Table

Practice your ping pong with this ball-returning table
 (+3) [vote for, against]

This is a full-sized ping pong table. You play on your side. There's no opponent. Instead, on the opponent's side, the surface of the table is made up of hundreds of 1-inch flaps that normally lie flat but that can rise up and flip to any angle to hit the ball back to you. And all around the edge of the opponent's side there is a 3-foot wall, also made up of hundreds of independent flaps which can quickly extend and adjust.

The beauty of this game is that in ping pong, the ball *must* bounce once on the opponent's surface before the opponent is required to return it. When it does, sensors beneath the horizontal plane of the table quickly measure the speed, angle, and spin of the ball. The sensors immediately signal the appropriate flap to rotate and extend.

If the ball hits the opponent's wall without bouncing on the table, the opponent computer system beeps and lets you know your shot was out. If the ball bounces and goes over the wall, congratulations! The computer couldn't handle your "kill".

By the way, each flap is actually a *double* surface with both slabs initially stuck together. An electronic impulse pushes the slabs apart to give additional kinetic energy to the ball on each return.

Naturally, there is a score readout above the opponent's wall. You have to manually enter the score for the point via buttons under your side of the table, but the readout keeps track of the cumulative score.

Skill level can be set to beginner, advanced beginner, intermediate, and expert. On lower levels, the computer mechanism acts slower and sometimes uses the wrong flap on purpose; also hits the ball back slower and higher. On expert, the computer works as fast as it darn well can!

Retail value for this ping pong table should be, oh, I don't know, around \$50,000.

 — phundug, Apr 07 2004

current table tennis robot technology http://www.megaspin...matics&pid=ttm-500b
no specific shot return capability. [ato_de, Oct 05 2004]

 //Retail value for this ping pong table should be, oh, I don't know, around \$50,000.//

Become factory sponsored, and that wouldn't be a problem. Oh, how I yearn for a decent match of ping pong! [+]
 — Letsbuildafort, Apr 07 2004

Cool.
 — skinflaps, Apr 07 2004

 The down side is that I don't think you could use the surface for regular play, it would not be in the least bit portable and you haven't allowed for around the net shots? the concept is great and I think it is actually bakeable.

overall +
 — ato_de, Apr 07 2004

Some kind of ball tracking technology would be useful for this. Paint it orange or something, and use one of those robotic vision systems to watch and bat it back. Or perhaps a RFID tag, some local triangulation, and a quick 5 DOF 'bot as the opponent.
 — RayfordSteele, Apr 07 2004

I think this could be made much more simple - just have a randomly textured surface that's moved by solinoids. Activated by simple break-the-beam sensors.
 — my-nep, Apr 08 2004

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