Meta Pong

Turn a ping-pong table into a living machine

Metapong XP1 is a project imagined by digital artist Antonin Fourneau as part of a Eniarof installation.

The Metapong serie is an attempt to transgress the playing mechanics of the ping-pong game by creating a hybridization between the inert table of sport and mechanical systems specific to the world of factories and work.
The Metapong XP1 table moves and changes orientation while players are playing. This is done through four automated pneumatic carjacks that give the table an animal-like behavior combined with typical industrial sounds.

We have been involved in this project from the start and helped with the mechanic and pneumatic elements sizing, as well as the automation and the electronics.

Test and exploration

Moving a table with enough speed and enough strength to support a human body isn’t an easy feat.

It took us some time to choose the right mecanical actuator and we ended up sowhere we did not expect : pneumatic car jacks ! If there’s one thing we like, it’s to divert an object from its normal use. So we had to test and qualify the jacks to automate them and make sure they would fit our expectations.

Hardware design

Having a pneumatic circuit requires a strict control over where and when to put the pressure and using four jacks also ment we had a hyperstatic configuration that forced us to have a fine control over each jack’s movement.
To manage all this, we had to develop a circuit with distance measurements for each jack as well as a controller board that managed the real time automation to control the table’s position.

Embedded software

Although the software wasn’t that complicated on this project, we still had to develop some automation to avoid some jacks pushing to much.
Another good challenge was to implement an “animal-like behaviour” as the artist hoped to have : we used several tricks including random timing between each movement, alternating between slower and faster movements or voluntary jerky movements.

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