P1ngP0ng is a technically enhanced and interactive ping pong table – that uses positional tracking and visual projection to give the players an even more awesome experience, while flapping their paddles!

Pingpong Full Net
Spicing up our office table

This all started as an R&D project, fueled by our own curiosity and burning desire to somehow spice up our office ping pong table – for those oh-so-prestigious after work sessions! A couple of things seemed basic, we wanted the table to come to life somehow and it had to be fun!

Pingpong Split Code
Where's the ball?

So, we began playing around with sensors and cameras. Starting out with a Microsoft Kinect, mounted in the ceiling of our office. This allowed us to track the depth and position of the ping pong ball in 3D-space – Great! Mission accomplished... we thought.

Pingpong Split Camera2
Pingpong Split Track1
For professionals

But the problem soon became obvious: the Kinect has a framerate that is way too slow for an intense game, where the ball travels at high speeds (a little depending on how skilled you are - worth mentioning is that we have a few VERY skilled players at the office).

The projection

Meanwhile we were looking at different solutions to the Kinect problem - we decided to have a go with the projector. The big issue with that is that our ceiling at the office are approximately 2,6m - and a regular table tennis are somewhere around 0,8m high. Since we need to mount the projector at the ceiling pointing down on the table, we only had 1,5m (since the projector itself is 0,3m) distance to project on the table. After some research and modding in the software we finally managed to project on the full table though!

Pingpong Full Color
70 fps - image recognition

Back to the webcam problem - the solution was to get a high framerate webcam (70fps) and using image recognition to compare each frame that was captured. It turned out that this technique could be used to measure the distance too, by comparing the size of the ball in each frame, which made it possible to detect a bounce on the table.

The visuals

For the sake of diversity, we created two different visual presets straight off the bat, which would shift between themselves during gameplay, based on a defined time interval. One that burst out particles in the form of emojis based on where you placed your swing, and another that changed the color of the whole table depending on where the ball bounced.

The result

We are pretty happy how this little experiment turned out! So we decided to try out the table in a real-life scenario when we had a party at the office, resulting in it being picked up by Projector, who wanted to use it for a reopening of the Västermalmsgallerian - a shoppingmall in Stockholm. After customizing installations and making a more polished setup, the ping pong table was ready for some more action!

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