You might not hear "design thesis" and "ping pong table" in the same sentence very often, but today you'll be glad you did. Because German interaction design student Thomas Mayer's Table Tennis Trainer project fused those two seemingly disparate concepts in the coolest way possible.
His slick rig centers around a couple of PlayStation motion-tracking cameras and an HD projector. Of course, the secret sauce is the user interface Mayer designed to give table tennis players stats about and control over every part of their game, along with live instantaneous feedback on every shot.
For instance, you can practice your serve, shoot for dynamic strategic targets or track the path of every shot. But the projector can also throw down patterns that help you focus by visually making it more difficult. For both disciplined training and pure entertainment purposes, the possibilities are virtually limitless.
Of course, as a student project, this is just a prototype. But perhaps with the right support and encouragement, Mr. Mayer could be convinced to make this augmented reality an actual reality, to the delight of both professional and not-so-serious ping pong players everywhere.