Do you recall my Eeek! Spectacular Sensors Smackdown! column from October 2020? If so, you may recall that I fielded a modest entry myself. I took my 12×12 ping pong ball array — in which each ball is equipped with a tricolor LED — and added a 9-DOF (nine degrees of freedom) microelectromechanical system (MEMS) sensor.

As you can see in this video, we use the sensor to detect when the array is tilted past a certain point and use the direction of tilt to “roll” a “ball” (in the form of an illuminated pixel) around the array.

Well, Cool Beans Blog community member Steve Wheeler just posed a comment to my original column that put my little experiment to shame. Steve’s comment pointed me to this video by Mark Rober.

O-M-G! What Mark has done is to create the dart board I always dreamed of – one that moves to intercept the dart such that it always ends up as a bullseye. As Mark says in the description for the video:

I fulfilled a 3 year long dream to create a dartboard where you get a bullseye every time thanks to some engineering. Basically, you throw a dart and then a Vicon motion capture system tracks the dart in the air. We use those x,y,z positions in matlab to predict where the dart will land using some regression analysis. Once we know where it will land, we move the board to the right spot using 6 stepper motors that attach to the back of the board using fishing line. All of this happens in 400 ms or so. Then we took it to a bar to see what people would think of it (SPOILER ALERT: they liked it).

Can you imagine what it would have taken to achieve this sort of thing just a few short years ago – the sensors, the algorithms, and the processing capability? Now it’s something that anyone (with a size-16 brain with go-faster stripes) can throw together in their garage. All I can say is that I am well-impressed and – if I had one – I would doff my cap to Mark. How about you? What do you think?