Space & Innovation

Ping Pong to the Beat of Your Favorite Song - Or Else

Players must hit the ball back and forth to the beat of a tune. Screw up, and the song cuts out completely.

<p>Mark Wheeler, Ping Pong FM</p>

Since ping pong isn't hard enough, a group from Seattle came up with their own game called Ping Pong FM that works almost like some twisted game of musical chairs. The whole high-tech setup requires a deft hand at the table -- and a shared taste in music.

Ping Pong FM is more methodical and collaborative than your typical ping pong game. In this version, each player must hit the ball back and forth to the beat of a chosen song. Do it right and the music plays normally. Go slower or faster and so does the tune. Screw up, and the song cuts out completely.

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Seattle-based designer and creative director Mark Wheeler led the game's creation. "The project was born out of ideas around how we listen to and interact with music, as well as how to bring extra fun and surprise to something familiar," he and his team explained in a press release. They wanted to find a way to make listening to an album as playful and interactive as a live performance experience.

Although Ping Pong FM resembles a classic matchup, the team packed it with a bunch of tech. The paddles contain contact microphones that track the game play. Each paddle connects to a retro-style radio case that actually holds an Arduino platform to identify the players and register hits. That tracking info gets sent to a computer running the game app, which displays the current song coming out of two tall speakers and adjusts the song's pacing in real time.

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Players can pick out a slower preloaded song to get the hang of things or challenge themselves with higher BPMs like the Beastie Boys' "Intergalactic." Just try not to let the ball drop. Unless you really can't stand the song.