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Omron 6th Generation FORPHEUS Motivates Table Tennis Players with AI

Omron today announced its 6th generation table tennis robot FORPHEUS. In addition to the personal coaching function in the 5th generation to improve players’ skills, the 6th generation FORPHEUS challenged to develop an AI that would increase players’ motivation. Satoshi Yase, a member of OMRON’s Technology and Intellectual Property Division, who has served as project leader for two consecutive years since the 5th generation FORPHEUS, says that the development of the 6th generation focused on improving player’s motivation to grow” and got a lot of work on interactions where the machine accelerates players’ growth.  

In the 5th generation, the hardware and algorithms have been thoroughly improved, giving the machine a high level of table tennis skill that allows for fast rallies with experienced players. It has also evolved to the point where it is possible to provide “personal coaching,” which encourages players to improve their skills by giving them advice and ball returns tailored to the skill level of their opponents. The 6th generation challenged to accelerate players’ skill development from a mental perspective. To motivate players, it is necessary to know the mental state of players in real time and plan rallies accordingly. In other words, you have to read the emotions of those players and give the most appropriate response at the right time.

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Omron turned their attention to the Meta-AI developed by game company SQUARE ENIX. The Meta-AI monitors the entire game while guessing the player’s psychology and initiates events at the right time. For example, it can tell an enemy character to deliberately show an opening, cleverly avoid an attack, or launch a powerful attack. By constantly adjusting the balance of the game, the player becomes more engaged and more immersed in the game.

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OMRON utilizes its proprietary people-measurement technology to estimate a player’s skills and emotions in real time and understand his or her state of mind by using cameras to sense vital data such as facial expressions, gaze and heartbeat. Based on these results, the Meta-AI analyzes how to motivate players’ emotions and translates them into rally plans. It then repeats the process of returning the ball accurately by changing the course, pitch type and speed according to these rally plans. FORPHEUS will continue to evolve towards a future where machines and human continue to improve and grow together. This 6th generation FORPHEUS was first unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2020.