This Smartphone-Powered Robot Will Murder You in Air Hockey

Jose Julio

If, like most people, you have ever thought for an instant that you were pretty good at air hockey, we have bad news. You were wrong. There’s a smartphone-powered robot that would straight-up wreck you in air hockey if you ever had the guts to play it.

The open source robot, which was created by Jose Julio, is a beast. In order to play against it, human opponents need to fire up a special Android app and position the phone in a place where the camera can see the entire surface of the hockey table. From that vantage point, the program is able to track the puck and predict where it will go next. It then communicates with a paddle that’s been rigged so it can move across and up and down its side of the table, allowing it to block and return shots.

The worthy opponent is actually an improved version of Julio’s first air hockey robot, which used a more complicated camera set-up to function. The new one, Air Hockey Robot Evo, uses a handy smartphone.

It’s possible, with a little know-how and access to a 3D printer, to create your own robot rival. Julio’s website offers instructions for how to set up the robot, create the table, and work the app.

“It’s a GREAT and fun project to teach science, robotics, computing, visual recognition and engineering,” the website boasts.

If you decide to throw down with the bot, keep in mind that you can change the difficulty level of your opponent. You know, if you’re a big wimp.

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