Using wii’s controller as an advanced computer input device

Wii is currently one of the world’s best selling gaming platform, having sold 6.3 million units in 2007 and a cumulative 7.38 million units. The unique nature of its input devices makes it so. The motion-sensitive wireless hand held controller and sensor bar combine for a unique combination of twisting, turning, pushing and pulling game play that lets players mimic movements for bowling, tennis or sword-fighting.

Wiimote

What you might not know is that the Wiimote is one of the most powerful computer input devices ever created. It contains a Bluetooth transceiver, a 1024×768 infrared camera with the capability of tracking up to four light points, a 3-axis accelerometer, and an expansion port. Packed in amongst all this goodness is a speaker and a rumbler (a motor with an off-center weight attached).

When you consider that most of those 7+ million Wiis have multiple Wiimotes, it becomes apparent that this is the most common advanced interface device out there. And at $40 US, they’re inexpensive to boot.

The remote uses the same Bluetooth HID protocol as devices like wireless mice, which means it can be seen as a standard interface device by any computer with Bluetooth. If that doesn’t get you to thinking, you may want to check your mental connections.

The standard Wii set up includes a “sensor” bar, which is placed above or below your television. You then point your Wiimote at the sensor bar, and the game responds accordingly.

But, the “sensor” bar really isn’t a sensor. It’s simply a grouping of four infrared LEDs. What you’re holding in your hand, the Wiimote, is really doing all the sensing.

So, what would happen if you mounted the Wiimote on a tripod, and then moved the sensor bar around. Yep, you guessed it. The game would respond accordingly.

But that begs the questions, “what if I started pointing infrared light sources at a Wiimote? And what if I wrote a driver for Windows or Mac OS?”

Johnny Chung Lee has an answer, and it’s pretty intriguing:

Sources:
Wii sales figures: http://blogs.pcworld.com/gameon/archives/006324.html
Wiimote technical data: http://wiibrew.org/index.php?title=Wiimote
Johny Chung Lee’s website: http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~johnny/projects/wii/

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