FORPHEUS: Table Tennis Robot from Omron is a New Coach

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Table tennis is one of the world’s most enjoyable sports. But, the most challenging task is, finding a partner to play with.  Although, there are various organizations, who allows you to find a partner for it. But now, it does not mean having to depend on human players only, you can play with a robot. Omron has developed a robot to play table tennis. It is the first ever table tennis robot tutor for its unique technological intelligence and educational capabilities.

The robot has the name FORPHEUS. FORPHEUS is the acronym stands for Future Omron Robotics Technology for Exploring Possibility of Harmonized aUtomation with Sinic Theoretics. In real, it the combination of FOR and ORPHEUS. It represents company’s attitude of bringing out human creativity and possibility.

The current development leader of the robot Taku Oya, said, “The Omron mission is to put the robot into practice. Our company has found a place where humans and machines harmonize together.”

This table tennis robot is equipped with technology where humans and machines grow together. The AI part of the project enables the robot to judge if the player was good or bad at table tennis. Also, it can judge the skill level of the opponent.

To develop this technology, scientists carried some background data on how was this technology developed. They collected data from 100 people coming to their innovation center. Some were good at ping-pong and some were novices.

The robot not only watches ball’s speed but also the harmony level with a player by observing his/her facial expressions and skeletal information. It consists of two vision sensors that find the movement of the ball. In addition, the motion sensor equipped inside it identifies the movement of the opponent. The arrays of cameras inside it monitors the position of the ball. Its controller can analyze one thousand times a second.

Poulami Nag said, “It is capable of precise rotational speed estimation, giving a real-time response with an almost minimal margin of error. This technology can be used to teach human players by showing the highly accurate trajectory prediction using the firm’s proprietary prediction module.”

Another interesting feature is its messaging system on the net. It helps the player know what is needed to improve. The system also communicates encouragement. It motivates the player to acquire better timing, proper placement, and better skills.

Taku Oya said, “We configured FORPHEUS so that it can consider changing its return level in three phases, from Easy to Normal and Hard, when the player’s skill grows while he/she is enjoying the rally.”