When Nintendo released the WiiMote at the end of 2006, it was arguably a console industry game changer. The concept of interacting with a game using your physical body was born, and though naysayers believed it to be a fad, the Wii remains one the most successful consoles ever. Lifelike motion controls enabled it to appeal to a wide audience that might otherwise never have touched a video game. Like any new piece of technology, the humble WiiMote was quickly subverted to other uses beyond the Wii; here’s my pick of 6 of the best WiiMote hacks.
Launched to fame by an astounding TED presentation, Johhny Lee is the man behind the first three of these incredible WiiMote hacks.
Headtracking For Desktop VR
In this setup, the WiiMote is placed in a fixed position by the display unit, and the user must effectively wear the sensor bar (though in reality, this means 2 IR LEDs on either side of the head, which can be easily built into a cap). The WiiMote identifies where the user’s head is, and displaces the 3D universe displayed on-screen appropriately; giving a pseudo 3D effect.
Though an impressive technical feat, there’s very little real world usage here or relevance to gaming; what you see isn’t actually 3D, and the effect is only prominent if you constantly move your head around.
Here’s one with real world usage in education the world over; traditionally interactive whiteboards – which basically means a huge display you interact with for classroom demonstrations, etc – can costs many thousands of dollars. Using a cheap project, a WiiMote or two, and a $1 infra-red LED, Johhny’s code will save you a bundle. Angela wrote a superb tutorial if you want to set this one up yourself.
I tested this out myself too a few years back while working at Kyoto University, and found that while the accuracy was good, it was too easy to obscure the LED with your own hand, at which point the connection is severed. Latency issues with BlueTooth meant that drawing lines would often come out as splotches rather than continuous, so there’s certainly things you could improve upon.
In this demo, Johhny uses an array of IR LEDs and a WiiMote placed statically above a monitor to detect light which is bounced back from your fingertips. This makes for an incredible inexpensive multitouch display.
Here’s the full video of his work. Johhny Lee moved on from WiiMote hacks to help out with Kinect, and is currently working on secret projects for Google. To download the code and try out any of his examples, WiiMoteProject is a central hub and forum for discussions on WiiMote hacks in general.
The Glove Programmable Input Emulator started life as a way to emulate a joystick and keyboard with the Essential Reality VR Glove. It has since grown to include a huge range of input controls and allows you to essentially map various inputs to outputs – allowing you to play video games or control midi devices. This includes the full WiiMote capabilities (even a rowing machine can be used as input).
Interested? GlovePie is your starting point; Christian also showed you the full process of connecting a WiiMote and setting it up with GlovePie. Here’s one of the more ambitious GlovePie projects.
Wii RC Car
Throw in an Arduino and you have a sweet WiiMote-controlled RC car;, while the video below should be enough to excite you.
Remote Controlled Sex Toy
Mojowijo is the latest in remote cybersex toys; otherwise known as teledildonics (no, I didn’t just make that word up, it’s legit – it’s on Wikipedia). Connect the WiiMote accessory port to the vibrating attachment and your movements are remotely transmitted across the globe to an anxiously awaiting partner. There’s no official word on a 3-player upgrade yet.
And yes, there’s a relatively safe for work video:
With the WiiU launching soon that still makes heavy use of WiiMote, these little things will likely be around for a long time yet. So to finish this off, here’s a little compilation of WiiMote fails.
Have you tried any of these projects, or do you know of any more cool projects for a WiiMote? Perhaps you used a WiiMote in your haunted Halloween house this year?