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This robotic ping-pong trainer is basically a mechanized version of Forrest Gump

Table tennis is not a sport that’s particularly easy to practice on your own. That’s where the new Infinity Smart Table Tennis Training Robot, created by iPong and table tennis company veteran Joola, literally comes in to play. While there are other robot pingpong trainers available, this new device promises comparable quality, but is far more affordable for the average pingpong-playing Joe.

In the most basic terms, the Infinity Smart Table Tennis Training Robot is like one of those ball-firing machines used by tennis players or in baseball batting cages. It fires out balls at a rate of 30 to 100 per minute. But it doesn’t stop there. It can perform just about any kind of shot — from no spin to topspin, underspin, or side spin — by moving 150 degrees side to side. The app-controlled drills will be selected by world-leading players and coaches.

“The most challenging aspect of the robot’s development was getting the robot to be able to shoot anywhere on the table with every different type of shot and be as accurate as possible,” project manager Austin Kim told Digital Trends. “We even tried to create an algorithm for the robot by calculating the different ball trajectories depending on how much spin and force was applied while considering air resistance. To solve this aspect, we conducted a lot of testing with trial and error, which was based off of the capabilities of the robot.”

JOOLA Infinity Table Tennis Smart Robot

The Infinity robot has 20 different speeds for the top wheel and bottom wheel, with 20 different angles for its X-axis, and 16 angles for the Y-axis. “With these variables in mind, we were able to calculate the limits of the different combinations and then program different types of shots into a 5 x 3 accuracy grid on the other half of the table,” Kim continued. “We are constantly improving the precision and accuracy of our robot during the development process, and will continue to make improvement updates after the product is launched.”

As ever, we offer our usual warnings about the risks inherent in crowdfunding campaigns. However, if you’re aware of these and still wish to get involved, you can head over to the project’s Kickstarter page, where you can pledge your cold, hard cash. The Infinity Smart Table Tennis Training Robot starts at $499, complete with 100 balls. Higher-priced rewards are also available. Shipping is set to take place in December 2020.

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