Old movies that depict an estimated version of the future are always fun to re-watch. The Terminator series is probably one of the first that comes to mind. In this film’s future, humankind is engaged in a never-ending battle between man and cyborgs. And, like most 80s science fiction films, they were completely wrong in their depiction of the future… in most ways.
While bloodthirsty cyborgs are thankfully not a concern just yet, killer robots have been developed. But the purpose isn’t war. It’s something way more productive: table tennis. PONGO explains.
Introducing FORPHEUS, the killer ping pong robot
Japanese electronics and automation company Omron has been working on something pretty huge over the past few years. Allow us to introduce FORPHEUS, a big ol’ robot which can accurately return the ball in table tennis. But on top of this, it can do a whole bunch of other freaky stuff too, like:
Read your mind
Not your entire mind – just where you’re most likely to place the ball when you return it. FORPHEUS uses AI to learn your playing habits and overcome them.
The FORPHEUS can actually pick up on emotion and cooperation levels between players. Insane, right? It uses six cameras to watch opponents and read heart rate, facial expressions, blinks and movements to predict what you’re feeling. Super creepy.
Assess the condition of the rubber bat
Ever blame your lack of skills on the bat? FORPHEUS does this too, but provides the evidence to back it up by showing the condition of the rubber. What a sook.
FORPHEUS vs actual table tennis players
So, it’s clear that the killer ping pong robot can do a lot of impressive things. But there are even more things that it can’t do when compared to actual table tennis players:
While it may be fun to rally with a high-tech robot for a while, it’s always more fun when you’re sharing the experience. And FORPHEUS can’t experience emotion… yet.
Talk smack and tell jokes
Table tennis isn’t always about competition and winning. Sometimes, it’s just about having a laugh! FORPHEUS can’t talk, let alone talk rubbish and tell jokes.
Table tennis is such an awesome way to relax with mates or break the ice between new friends, with a racquet in your hand and perhaps a coffee or a beer in the other. Well, FORPHEUS can’t relax and have a drink either. In fact, playing table tennis with FORPHEUS is a bit like playing with that strange bloke from IT who doesn’t say much but is a jet at his job. And, for some reason, smells like a new car.