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A first-of-its-kind sensor system to keep ping pong scores automatically.

Interview: New STIGA SensorScore Table Tennis Scoring System Developers

stiga sensorscoreIf you’re like most ping pong players, you’ve had the experience of losing track of the score, or of whose serve it is. STIGA feels your pain, and has a solution. The STIGA SensorScore automatically keeps table tennis scores with a vibration-activated and hands-free system, using the table surface as a nano-vibration detection field with two small sensors placed under the table top and one built into the net. This unique system also includes audio prompts and a LED display.

STIGA has manufactured table tennis products since 1944. I recently interviewed developers at STIGA about the SensorScore fully-automated table tennis scoring system, the first and only hands-free system of its kind.

Where did the original idea for the STIGA SensorScore come from? Was it customer demand or an internal idea?

The two biggest frustrations of table tennis players in general are keeping track of the score and knowing whose serve it is. We heard from customers, both casual and competitive players alike, that, following a long volley, keeping track of the score can be a challenge. As a world-wide leading brand of table tennis tables and equipment, we took on the challenge of developing an automated scoring system that would solve the problem, and thus make the player experience more enjoyable.

Please describe the development stage. How many iterations were there? Who was on the development team?

SensorScore is a revolutionary new product that is unlike anything currently on the market. In addition to writing the code that determines the score based on contact data, it took several iterations to develop a sensor that was sensitive enough to capture the vibration of a table tennis ball on the surface of the table and into the net, but not so sensitive that it would pick up the ambient vibrations from the surrounding environment (sound, air flow, etc.). Our team included mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, industrial engineers, [and] operations, marketing and graphic design [people].

Does the amount of players matter when using the STIGA SensorScore system?

Not at all! STIGA SensorScore can be used in singles or doubles matches and is designed to track the score (11- or 21-point games) and service.

Does the digital scoring unit have any handicap or score altering options?

Yes. If STIGA SensorScore inaccurately awards a point (usually caused by human error), you can manually amend the score using the master controller and pressing the Home or Away buttons followed by the + or – buttons to add or remove points. We have tested SensorScore extensively and we have found the accuracy numbers to be approximately 95%.

Does the table need to be level for this system to work properly?

A level table certainly helps, but the real requirement for accurate gameplay is table thickness. The thickness of the table determines the level of sensitivity STIGA SensorScore should be set to. For most tables, the sensitivity switch should be switched to H (high). Thin table tops (less than an inch) should be set to M (medium) or L (light) to decrease the sensitivity.

Has the STIGA SensorScore been used in professional competitions?

None that we are aware of. Usually, in professional competitions, the score is kept by an official or referee.

Will there be any additional vendors besides Dick’s Sporting Goods, Amazon.com and Hammacher Schlemmer this holiday season? How about beginning in 2016?

Several online retailers are selling the product and we expect to be adding brick-and-mortar sporting goods retailers to the list of distributors as we move into 2016.

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