Hiroshi Ishii & The Tangible Media Group (MIT)

19 July 1998

Hiroshi Ishii & The Tangible Media Group (MIT) / 1998 / USA Athletic tangible interface

PingPongPlus is a digitally enhanced version of the classic ping-pong game. It is played with ordinary, un-tethered paddles and balls, and features a “reactive table” that incorporates sensing, sound, and projection technologies. Projectors display patterns of light and shadow on the table; bouncing balls leave images of rippling water and scattering fish; and the rhythm of play drives accompanying music and visuals.

Eight microphones mounted on the bottom of the ping-pong table detect the sound waves emitted when balls bounce off the table surface. The coordinates of each ball are calculated by comparing the timing through an electronic circuit. Using this coordinate data, a computer program calculates the ripple patterns and the movements of the schools of fish, both of which are rendered in video image and sound by the ceiling-mounted video projector.

The goal of the project is to let users learn—in a fun and engaging way—about the transformations of meaning that arise from the design of interactive digital layers.