We've seen machines playing ping pong before, but artist Mark Wheeler has got ping pong playing machines. He's harnessed the game's metronomic regularity, or lack thereof, and created a sound system with a tempo that's set by the back and forth of a rally.
"Usually music listening experiences are strictly about being as true to an original recording as possible," explains Wheeler. "But why can't listening to a record be as playful and interactive as a live performance?"
Ping Pong FM is his answer to that question. The system comprises a ping pong table and two paddles attached by cables to an Arduino and a jukebox-style computer setup. Players simply select a track on the computer and then begin playing ping pong.
Contact microphones are embedded in each of the paddles and the Arduino, installed in a retro radio casing, is calibrated to identify each time the ball hits one of them. Each hit is relayed to some software that registers the tempo of the game being played and revises the tempo of the music being played to match.
In order to get a song playing at its intended tempo, players must bring the rhythm of their rally up to speed. Songs with faster tempos, of course, require faster rallies and, in the event that a rally is too slow or a player misses the ball and the rally is ended, the music will begin to decelerate, potentially stopping altogether.
What results is a wildly warping version of the original track, with additional visual feedback provided on the system's screen.
The video below shows Ping Pong FM in action.
Source: Ping Pong FM