How It All Started
It would be hard to find someone more devoted to the sport of ping pong than Amir Kamandi.
Not only was he trained as a national table tennis player in Iran, Amir also extensively researched training methods to improve his skills in reaction time and accuracy.
FastPong, an interactive training device, was the result of Amir’s research proposal sent to and accepted by Seoul National University.
There, he met Jongha Yu, who was studying in the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering department.
Together, they turned theory into practice and created the first interactive table tennis hardware and software solution designed to identify and improve a player’s weakness.
So, how does it work?
Amir explains: “In a simple scenario, say you’re on the right side and your weakness is sending the ball to the left. Our device detects that by using sensors and response time. Aggregating the player’s data, FastPong not only identifies problems, but provides training programs aimed to improve a player’s game.”
How does the training program physically work?
“Out device connects to a table tennis machine that serves balls. 8 LED targets are on the table. Our device tracks your performance based on reaction time, decision making, and accuracy. This tracked performance is sent in real time to the FastPong app. Players can continue to measure their performance using the online training program.”
How does this compare to traditional face-to-face coaching?
“Personal coaching can’t be replaced for building a player’s motivation and skills. But in terms of assessing a player’s game, the human eye misses what FastPong’s AI can catch. Ideally, we see FastPong as an additional tool for the coach to guide the player. And for those that play table tennis recreationally, FastPong can be used to measure and improve their individual practice.”
Amir and Jongha created the prototype for FastPong in graduate school, and together took a step further to bring it to market.
That process involved several iterations of the software to make the tracked performance and training solutions as user-friendly as possible.
They secured an MOU with the Irananian National Table Tennis Federation. However, they are still solidifying their hold on the Korean table tennis market.
Given that South Korea is the fourth largest table tennis market in the world, it should have been easy. But table tennis club owners, ranging in the ages of 50 to 60, were resistant to integrating new technology.
“We’ve been working on it. It’s a direct revenue source for them. It’s about establishing trust first. And we have been building our relationships with local table tennis organizations and even sponsoring tournaments together that focus on good causes such as North-South Korean unification.”
After several years of perfecting the hardware and software using feedback from players, and with their growing local support, FastPong has come to the point where they’re ready to showcase and distribute to full scale.
Their next move is to market FastPong to the masses. They are currently developing their marketing strategy and preparing their crowdfunding campaign.
FastPong is growing its team to include a technical advisor, a developer, and Korean staff to communicate with the local community.
Now that FastPong’s technology is solidified, their next logical move is to easily transfer this solution to other sports, such as tennis, once they reach their initial target market.
In a country full of avid table tennis players, FastPong aims to soon make its mark and use FastPong technology to up the game in South Korea and to make FastPong an indispensable training support for players internationally.