New Augmented Reality Headset Pits Humans Against AI In Ping Pong

Artificial intelligence (AI) software is being used for virtual reality designs that create fun augmented-reality (AR) experiences. AR adds a digital overlay to the real world that is visible by wearing a headset.

Leap Motion created a fun, exciting AR game of ping pong. The player wears the headset and uses paddles that connect to a computer running AI software. The player sees a digital representation of a ping pong ball that bounces realistically and plays as a digital overlay on a real ping pong table. The opponent in the game is an ethereal player that is represented by a floating ping pong paddle.

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Engadget reports that the feeling of playing this game is very realistic. The ping pong paddle moves according to physical rules as if it is being used by a real human player. For example, the paddle does not get to jump to the correct position in order to properly return the ball. Instead, the paddle moves as if operated by a human player. The AI software calculates the ball position, its spin, its speed, and the trajectory to move the paddle into the correct position for the return hit of the ball. This is similar to what a real human does.

A demo video shows how the ball leaves a digital-light trail as it moves, which helps the human player follow where it is going. The speed of the gameplay is adjustable, which allows beginners to slow the game down to something more comfortable if they're having difficulty. Advanced users can bring up the game intensity by increasing the gameplay speed.

This VR headset and equipment made by Leap Motion is inexpensive. The estimated retail price when it goes into production will be less than $100. Leap Motion achieved this low-cost AR gear by using its North Star Project design for the headset and AI software that it plans to release as open source code in the near future.

By releasing the AI software as open source, Leap Motion hopes that other software developers will extend the capabilities of this AR system to include even more immersive experiences; therefore, allowing Leap Motion to sell more headsets. For now, it is simply fun to play ping pong; however, it does take some practice to get good in the world of AR.


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