Smartphone Will Destroy You at Air Hockey

Most of us carry a spectacularly powerful computer in our pocket, which we rarely use for much more than web browsing, social media, and maybe the occasional phone call. Our mobile phones are technological miracles, but their potential sometimes seems wasted.

It’s always a pleasure to see something that makes use of a mobile phone to drive some nuts-and-bolts hardware. [Jose Julio]’s project does just that, using the phone as the brains behind a robotic air hockey table.

Readers with long memories will remember previous air hockey tables from [Jose], using 3D printer components controlled by an Arduino Mega with a webcam suspended above the field of play. This version transfers camera, machine vision, and game strategy to an Android app, leaving the Arduino to control the hardware under wireless network command from above.

The result you can see in the video below the break is an extremely fast-paced game, with the robot looking unbeatable. If you want to build your own there are full instructions and code on GitHub, or if you follow the link from the page linked above, he sells the project as a kit.

You can go back and read our coverage of the original air hockey robot from 2014, or if you are interested in [Jose]’s other work you can have a look at his robotic spider.

[via /r/engineering]

21 thoughts on “Smartphone Will Destroy You at Air Hockey

    1. Agree. But keep in mind that an smartphone can only deliver 30fps. Detecting things moving that fast knowing the fps limitation and the reduced dimensions is quite difficult. This is a thing!

        1. You can record video at 120 fps, but you are “buffering” that video and then storing it. Not in real time. There is a lag there you can not afford if you want to use it to make decision on the fly. According to the current Arduino video API, the max fps (no lag) are 30 fps

          1. or you just account for the fixed delay (buffer size, transfer protocol, etc..). Also the arduino is only controlling the hardware (steppers, end switches etc.) It is certainly not doing any kind of machine vision, let alone at 30 fps.

  1. The human scored once, so apparently it’s not unbeatable. Yet. But it is definitely very cool.

    Having two of these would be great – people could compete by how effective their programs are.

    1. Agreed – I’d love to see two robots duke it out with the software set to the most aggressive and mean settings (guessing that the skill level of the robot player can be controlled).

  2. The maths might be a bit harder, but it should be possible for it to calculate the perfect trajectory to hit the puck around the opponent straight into the goal. But then, there’s no fun playing against a supreme player is there?

    1. Yes, but then the player moves. Just aiming for the goal every time doesn’t work-just like tennis. You build momentum and induce anticipation and lag into the opposing players’ movements, then cross unexpectedly.

      Or one of a million other strategies

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