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Friday, 1 November, 2002, 10:28 GMT
Smart pool table improves play
Demonstration of how interactive pool table works
A laser helpfully points out what you are doing wrong
If going on the pool table in your local bar is a humiliating experience then help is at hand.

Scientists at Aalborg University in Denmark have devised a smart pool table.

An overhead camera and laser placed above the interactive table watch the ball play, with a laser beam drawing shapes on the table pointing out the best shots.

A virtual coach called James, connected to the table via a computer, will help you improve your play with a series of exercises.

Sympathetic coach

"People do not speak to pool tables so we came up with this personalised system and people are happy to talk to him," explained Mr Larsen.

The technology behind James, who looks like a professional pool player, is the same Microsoft uses for its paperclip office assistant.

He is also more encouraging than your mates down the pub.

"He congratulates you if you get a high score," said Mr Larsen.

It is too early to say whether the interactive pool table has improved people's games.

"At the moment we are focusing on how people use it. We haven't done a long-term experiment in a pool hall," said Mr Larsen.

The interactive system has also been used to provide an interactive map of the university campus which draws a route for visitors to the building.

"Potentially this could be very useful in complex buildings such as hospitals," said Mr Larsen.

The research was reported in the New Scientist magazine.

See also:

23 Sep 02 | dot life
11 Jun 02 | Technology
14 Jun 02 | Science/Nature
03 Jun 02 | Science/Nature
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