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This article was published on October 12, 2016

Ping Pong FM is an awesome, high tech version of the game

Juan Buis
Story by

Juan Buis

Digital Culture Reporter

Juan Buis is TNW's Digital Culture Reporter, and you should click here. Juan Buis is TNW's Digital Culture Reporter, and you should click here.

Table tennis might be a techie’s favorite game. I’ve yet to see a startup office without a ping pong table, with people flocking to play the minute they have any downtime. We sure love to play at TNW.

The normal version is already pretty fun, but freelance creative director Mark Wheeler created something that turns it into a whole other game.

Ping Pong FM combines the fun dynamics of table tennis with elements of music-based video games like Guitar Hero.

The rules are simple — you need to keep hitting the ball at the correct tempo to keep the beat going. When you slow down or miss the ball altogether, the music quickly gets distorted.

The tech behind it is pretty interesting too. After testing da variety of game tracking techniques, Wheeler opted for a simpler approach —  sticking contact microphones to the paddles, capturing the sound of the ball hitting the wood. That signal is then sent to an Arduino hidden in a retro radio case. When a hit is registered by the device, a signal is sent to a computer running the game and controlling the music.

To be honest, I can’t wait to play this — I’m a huge fan of ping pong and the added musical element sounds like a fun challenge. Let’s hope Wheeler decides to make this more than just a one-off project.