Ping Pong FM Puts a Musical Spin on Table Tennis

Ping Pong FM is the lovechild of Guitar Hero and table tennis. Created by Mark Wheeler and a group of Seattle-based designers, the game is more of a collaboration than a competition. Players must hit the ball back and forth to keep the music going. Mess up, and well, the song cuts out completely.

To get started, simply select your paddle, choose your favorite composition, and serve. Rally too slowly and the tempo drops; keep the pace up and the party is on. As you can imagine, faster songs make for more of a challenge.

Although Ping Pong FM may resemble a classic table tennis matchup, Wheeler and his team packed it with a whole lot of tech. Contact microphones were placed inside each of the paddles to track gameplay. The microphone audio is processed by an Arduino hidden in a retro radio case that listens for peaks above a threshold.

When a hit is registered by the device, a Player ID signal is sent via USB to a computer running the game app and controlling the music. The app itself was built using openFrameworks to keep tabs of the pace of the rally and adjusts the speed of the song appropriately, as well as re-syncing to the beginning of a bar after longer slow-downs.

Don’t find ping pong hard enough? You’ll want to check out the project here.