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Table tennis robot scores volley of applause at CEATEC

by

Staff Writer

Steps toward developing an artificial intelligence were a central theme at the nation’s biggest annual IT and electronics show, and the crowds found no disappointment in Omron Corp.’s table-tennis-playing robot.

Forpheus is appearing at CEATEC for the third year running. Now it doesn’t just return shots; it adjusts to the skill level of its human opponent and can even serve as a tutor.

It uses advanced sensing and control technologies to identify movement and hit the ball. While that basic skill has been demonstrated in the past, it now compares the opponent’s moves with those in a data bank to assess the skill level.

In a demonstration match, Forpheus was seen sizing up its opponent in the first few rallies and then displaying the human’s skill levels on a screen.

The display was constantly updated during play as factors changed and the machine calculated what pace to play at.

Omron’s booth drew a sizeable crowd, with many convention-goers lining up to give Forpheus a go.

Also big at this year’s show was the so-called internet of things, or interconnected devices from everyday life.