Featured at CES 2019, many individuals stepped up to the plate to play against this worthy opponent, and many lost. Omron focused on having Forpheus pursue the “harmony of humans and machines” by allowing the robot to patiently coach his opponent.
Referred to as a “him” on Omron’s website, we probably won’t be calling Forpheus by his full name very often: “Future Omron Robotics technology for Exploring Possibility of Harmonized aUtomation with Sinic theoretics.”
This year, Forpheus came with some updates such as his high-speed, multi-axis robotic arm that represents a human elbow and wrist. This allows the ping-pong playing bot to mimic human movement and put topspin and backspin on shots. The robotic arm is controlled by AI through a five-axis motor system that swings the paddle. The brain of the bot, also known as the motion controller, then tells Forpheus how to hit the ball, when to hit it, and the direction it will go within a 1000th of a second.
Additionally, Forpheus has a five-camera system, and included is a high-speed image-processing camera that senses a player’s form, skill, and position, speed of the racket, and ball’s trajectory. Two of the cameras sense the ball, while the other two sense the player’s behavior, and the high-speed camera senses the racket. Omron claims the bot can detect a ball’s speed and rotation up to 80 times per second, according to The Verge. Also, if you’re an Olympic ping-pong player or a person like me who plays on a rare occasion, no worries, Forpheus uses AI to judge his opponent’s abilities and adjusts his playing level to match it.
Lastly, Forpheus uses his AI abilities to not only sense a player’s movements, but to analyze the data projected from the player, and then compares the player’s form and skill to that of a professional player. The bot then provides personalized coaching tips that flash across an LED screen on the table net. You may be wary about being compared to a professional ping-pong player, but Forpheus is quite encouraging while playing, and flashes messages such as, “20 times rally! I’m very happy to play with you!”