What Do Ping Pong and the Beastie Boys Have in Common?

They're Both Part of the Ultimate Game for the Spotify Age

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Ping Pong 2.0

The Ping Pong FM setup calls for killer speakers normally used to keep a dance party going.
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Ping Pong is one of those table games that seems so classic, so timeless, it's hard to imagine how it could be improved at all. But apparently, it can. And it has been. Introducing Ping Pong FM, the techie twist on the traditional game, in which a soundtrack dictates the speed of play. Developed by a group of artists, creative directors, and designers, Ping Pong FM is fun, sure, but it's also a high-octane experiment in how we respond to, and interact with, music.

This super-retro radio actually houses a key piece of Ping Pong FM's interactive gameplay technology. Also, it lights up with the beat of the song, so that's fun.
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How It Works

To begin, players select a song to play to on the game's app—say, the Beastie Boys' "Intergalactic." Each Ping Pong FM paddle contains a mic that picks up the paddle's vibrations whenever it comes in contact with the ball. The mic then sends this information to an Arduino, a piece of hardware encased in what looks like a vintage radio. The Arduino notes which paddle mic recorded the hit, assigns that paddle a Player ID, and passes that ID to the game app.

Play slowly, and the song will slow down. Play faster, and the song will speed up. Pro tip: Be an identical twin and wear matching outfits when playing against each other, like Ping Pong FM creative director Brandon Hilliard and his brother.

The app will speed up or slow down the song depending on the time between players' hits. It also responds to individual player performances with comments displayed on a monitor (e.g., "Noice," "Great," "Hella Good," "Very Adequate"). The faster the song, the faster the gameplay.

Each paddle has a mic that senses when a player hits the ball.

The short film promoting the game begins with a voiceover: "Ping Pong FM is a musical game for table tennis professionals." But really, it's for anyone who wants to get a little competitive while volleying ping pong balls to the beat of the best party tracks.

The Story Behind It

"We'd love it if people started to engage with music in a more playful way," the developers told Sweet over email. "If the rise of the DJ was a revolution, and Bluetooth speakers on the bus are the norm, what's next? Hopefully this project is a small step to get people thinking about how records can be played, performed, enjoyed, and messed with."

Ping Pong FM is not yet in production, but if you want to learn more about this fast-paced, pop-infused table tennis update, visit pingpong.fm.

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