Sensors Enable Table to Keep Score

A new table tennis net with special vibration-detecting nanosensors is able to keep track of players' scores during a match automatically.
By Mark Roberti

The system is not perfect, of course. The sensors cannot tell the difference between a paddle touching the table (say, after a hit) and the ball. In addition, if you toss the ball to your opponent and it lands on the table while the system is anticipating a serve, the sensor will assume that the player made a bad serve and award you the point. But in these cases, you can simply press a button to correct the score.

Overall, the system works well and does what it's supposed to do. The only slight impact the system has on the game is when balls clip the top of the net. Because of the wire in the tape at that section of the net, some balls that might hit and drop on the other side simply fall back on the striker's side. But this impact is minor and will not affect club or league games in a significant way. The broadcasting of the score is seen as an advantage in the system, but it would be good to be able to turn that function off while allowing the system to let you know when a serve hits the net. It would also be good to be able to adjust the sound level up when playing in a noisy environment.

The Stiga SenseScore systems has a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $149.99, but sells for $99 on Amazon. That might be a little pricey for folks who play occasionally at home (good nets typically sell for only $50 to $80 apiece), but leagues might find the product attractive, especially if they don't assign umpires for each game.

The system could eventually be linked to Wi-Fi so scores could automatically be uploaded to the Internet, as well as for record-keeping and analysis purposes. I would also like to see future models include a means—perhaps via an infrared strip—of determining whether a doubles serve is on the correct side of the center line. I play a lot of doubles, and find there are often disputes about whether a serve was in or out.

The bottom line, for me, is that this is a great example of how a company can make its products smarter using sensors, and perhaps generate additional revenue in the process.

Mark Roberti is the founder and editor of RFID Journal. If you would like to comment on this article, click on the link below. To read more of Mark's opinions, visit the RFID Journal Blog, the Editor's Note archive or RFID Connect.

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