Even Researchers have fun with the Wiimote

Martin Brinkmann
Apr 28, 2008
Updated • Dec 20, 2012

I'm often amazed by the videos that are offered at the TED (which stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design) website. Today I saw a very interesting demonstration by researcher Johnny Lee who was using the Wiimote, that is a controller for the Nintendo Wii gaming system, to produce remarkable applications. The five minute video is showing two distinct projects that utilize the Wiimote to its fullest.

The first project demonstrated a digital whiteboard, something that sells for several thousand Dollars, emulated by the Wiimote and additional hardware that do not cost more than $10. The software used in the demonstration can be downloaded from the researchers website and it actually has been downloaded about 500.000 times.

The other project demonstrated a head mounted 3d- viewer. This system was also using the Wiimote and some additional hardware. He mentioned that this technique will be included in a game by Electronic Arts as an Easter Egg.

As of September 2007, Nintendo has sold over 13 million Wii game consoles. This significantly exceeds the number of Tablet PCs in use today according to even the most generous estimates of Tablet PC sales. This makes the Wii Remote one of the most common computer input devices in the world. It also happens to be one of the most sophisticated. It contains a 1024x768 infrared camera with built-in hardware blob tracking of up to 4 points at 100Hz. This significantly out performs any PC "webcam" available today. It also contains a +/-3g 8-bit 3-axis accelerometer also operating at 100Hz and an expandsion port for even more capability. These projects are an effort to explore and demonstrate applications that the millions of Wii Remotes in world readily support.

The homepage of Johnny Lee contains another video that is demonstrating how it is possible to track fingers with the Wiimote.

Update: The homepage of Johnny Chung Lee has moved. The new web page offers additional videos and information about new projects that the researcher is currently looking into.


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  1. Hobo Joe said on April 30, 2008 at 5:22 am

    I tried posting this comment during school…but technical difficulties prevented me from doing so. Now, over 12 hours later, I remembered I wanted to post it. Lol. Here goes:

    These videos have been out for months, and I hate to spoil all the fun, but the head-tracking, sadly, will NOT be appearing in EA’s Wii game as was reported.

    It was going to be in BOOM BLOX, but they decided to remove it from the game plans. They issued a correction in this month’s Nintendo Power (V.229, page 8) that reads:
    “CORRECTION In V.228 we reported that Boom Blox would include a head-tracking feature. Unfortunately, we have since learned that the option is no longer planned for the game.”

  2. Tobey said on April 29, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    Wow. Now, this is what I’d call some gadgetry :D

  3. Syahid A. said on April 29, 2008 at 11:36 am

    I’ve seen this video in TED a week ago. Pretty amazing what this guy does. Well deserved of a standing ovation by the audience.

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