NEW YORK — With social distancing in mind, PingPod is also the future of table tennis.
PingPod co-founder and chief product officer, Ernesto Ebuen, said PingPod is the world’s first network of autonomous table tennis pods.
Each “pod” is fully run by technology, with no employees required — which means less physical contact with others.
“While other formats of table tennis clubs used to be massive numbers of table tennis tables, so like 8 or 10 while in PingPod, it’s only 3 or 4 — but instead of having one big one, we’re gonna have small format but many locations.”
PingPod opened just before the pandemic lockdowns started in March.
But the good news is — the business survived the pandemic, and has recently re-opened with COVID-19 safety in mind.
Each reservation can only accept 3 people max — disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizers and rubber gloves are available for patrons.
Each table is sanitized after use, and players are given clean sets of UV sanitized balls every time.
“This is the best social distancing game in New York.”
They even have Robopong, which you can battle without human interaction.
Professional table tennis player Tahl Leibovitz uses PingPod to train for the 2021 Paralympic games in Tokyo.
“I have something called osteochondroma which really limits my movement and I’m in a lot of physical pain, I really like table tennis because, it’s really tough to get an injury. It’s like running, playing chess and boxing at the same time. You have to use your mind and your body sort of together and once you sort of get that, you can move a lot.”
Ebuen is also an accomplished athlete. He is a 6-time philippine national table tennis champion and serves as coach to the U.S. Olympic trials and national championships.
Ebuen migrated to the U.S., thanks to the generosity of an uncle and frontline hero, Erwin Lambrento, who recently succumbed to COVID-19.
His uncle may not have been able to see PingPod’s reopening but Ebuen believes his uncle’s spirit continues to drive him to succeed in a sport that has become a favorite of social distancing conscious customers amid the pandemic.