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I, for one, welcome our new Wii remote hacking overlords
December 22, 2007 4:36 PM   Subscribe

Still aren't sure if the Wii is worth the wait in line? That's okay, the Wiimote is all you need for: Low-Cost Multi-point Interactive Whiteboards Using the Wiimote, Tracking Your Fingers with the Wiimote, and the latest: Head Tracking for Desktop VR Displays using the Wii Remote (extremely cool and the easiest to implement). From the maker of the $14 steady-cam [prev. here], Johnny Chung Lee is taking Wiimote hacking to a whole new level, and giving away all necessary software and instructions for free. Wii games are about to get a whole lot cooler.

I successfully implemented both the white-board, and the VR display and I am just floored. You don't need the Wii for any of these projects. Just the Wiimote, bluetooth dongle, some free software, and an IR light source. I got the VR display working in about 30 minutes (20 of which were spent figuring out that I need the latest DirectX SDK and then installing it). Johnny Lee is quite clever, and will likely make even Nintendo realize that their interface has more potential than previously thought.
posted by TimeTravelSpeed (46 comments total) 66 users marked this as a favorite

 
That head tracking was pretty cool. I know a few Perception Labs at the local Uni are all over the Wii for its research potential (not to mention getting a game console with grant money).
posted by srboisvert at 4:56 PM on December 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


If all you need is a wiimote, why buy a Wii?
posted by delmoi at 4:57 PM on December 22, 2007


Now if only the library of games wasn't primarily composed of crappy PS2 ports or kiddified mini-game collections.

Nintendo no longer sets any standards for developers and it shows. I'll pass.
posted by GavinR at 4:57 PM on December 22, 2007


I saw the interactive whiteboard vid awhile back.

It made me feel like one of the natives who's never seen an airplane before and wants to attack the giant, shiny bird.
posted by dogwalker at 5:05 PM on December 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


That's pretty sweet, Charles.
posted by danb at 5:09 PM on December 22, 2007


I can. Not. Wait. Until Wiimotes are commodities and I can get one for just a few bucks.
posted by DU at 5:18 PM on December 22, 2007


You crazy kids today with your Wiimotes! When ah wuz yer age we had ourselves joysticks! And paddles! They wuz hardwired to the console, which wuz hardwired to the television set. AND WE WUZ THANKFUL to have that!
posted by ZachsMind at 5:22 PM on December 22, 2007


Also, I heart this guy.
posted by DU at 5:24 PM on December 22, 2007


Yeah! The Wiimote is awesome! I'm using aone with my Mac (via RemoteBuddy) and I'm really loving it. That remote Apple throws in is useless in comparison.
posted by tksh at 5:25 PM on December 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is really neat, and I suggest viewing these links -- it will blow your mind.

But it has very little to do with the Wii itself, and/or Wii games... it's just repurposing a very neat peripheral. No matter what happens with Wiimotes on PCs, it's probably not going to do much for the games on the console.

Note that you can buy Wiimotes on their own, no console necessary, so you can play with this stuff pretty cheaply.
posted by Malor at 5:27 PM on December 22, 2007


I had read somewhere about the "head tracking/desktop vr" technology being talked about before years ago (turning monitors into a "window") but I've never seen it demonstrated. So I'm guessing this has been tried without Wiimotes and I wouldn't be surprised if it was tied up with some patents somewhere. This really needs to be combined with 3d shutter glasses.
posted by bobo123 at 5:32 PM on December 22, 2007


Johnny Lee does great work, and I get annoyed every time I see a new video from him because he's stealing my lunch. It just goes to show how effective YouTube is at focusing attention and broadening audience.

(I suspect that he might next realize that he's only been exploiting 2 of the Wiimote's 4 potential tracks, and he'll show how easily you can extract both position and orientation given a four-point pose estimation algorithm.)
posted by rlk at 5:32 PM on December 22, 2007


I suspect that he might next realize that he's only been exploiting 2 of the Wiimote's 4 potential tracks...

I was wondering why he didn't use two Wiimotes to increase the resolution of the whiteboard app.
posted by DU at 5:38 PM on December 22, 2007


could you do this with any infrared camera and the appropriate software?
posted by empath at 5:45 PM on December 22, 2007


Using 2 wiimotes would require you to know the precise location of them relative to each other. I don't think the relative position information you get during calibration would help much with accuracy, though you could cover different angles and be less likely to accidentally block out your own pen.
posted by TheJoven at 5:48 PM on December 22, 2007


It made me feel like one of the natives who's never seen an airplane before and wants to attack the giant, shiny bird.

Funny, that's how I felt about the 3D/VR demo. A frickin' CAVE in every home. I haven't been that blown away since Wolf3D.
posted by Skwirl at 5:50 PM on December 22, 2007


Using 2 wiimotes would require you to know the precise location of them relative to each other. I don't think the relative position information you get during calibration would help much with accuracy...

I didn't really mean to combine them optically. Just mount them perpendicularly and H positioning from one and V from the other. That way they could even by right on the wall rather than askew from a distance.
posted by DU at 6:00 PM on December 22, 2007


This is really cool.

I want to try this at work in the next meeting. People will say "How do you do that???"

With the two LED pens he's made a version of Microsoft's touch table computer. Not quite all the capability, but instead of being very expensive and mostly unavailable (unless you are a casino), it is very cheap and a free download.

He ought to sell the LED pens on his website.

Who the heck needs a Wii?--just get the remote.
posted by eye of newt at 6:16 PM on December 22, 2007


That was far far cooler than I thought it would be before I clicked the first link.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 6:25 PM on December 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


[This is fucking cooler than cool shit]
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:33 PM on December 22, 2007


Wii Drums
posted by papakwanz at 6:49 PM on December 22, 2007


I viewed the "finger-tracking" video and thought it was neat, but pretty useless. Then I watched the "whiteboard" video.

Suddenly all those cool projection computers that we were supposed to have in the future seem so close, and inexpensive, too. Who would have thought that Johnny Chung Lee would be the architect of the future?

I realize he's probably a busy man building the future and all, but if somebody could remind him we're behind schedule on the moon-bases, robot butlers ans rocket-packs, I'd really appreciate it. I'm sure he could whip something together by, say, Thursday. I can wait.
posted by lekvar at 6:57 PM on December 22, 2007


Woah.
posted by smackfu at 8:24 PM on December 22, 2007


He's so awesome his username is simply "johnny". These videos are sick.
posted by null terminated at 9:36 PM on December 22, 2007


I love these. I've seen them linked on various gaming sites before, but they blow me away every time I watch them. This guy needs hiring, now!
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:10 AM on December 23, 2007


It's amazing he does this with commodity hardware. Very cool.
posted by jouke at 5:17 AM on December 23, 2007


What a communicator! He explains the techie-title in terms your grandma could understand, and solves a serious tech issue by reversing two things. That's clarity! Long live Johnny!
posted by fcummins at 6:30 AM on December 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


Finger tracking: Cool
DIY multi-touch digital whiteboard: Cool AND useful
Head-tracking: Whoah!

The head-tracking into a game along with the Wii remote (or a similar device) must surely be the Next Big Thing - looks totally awesome!

I'm also trying to picture using a combination of the head-tracking and the finger-tracking in an operating system, moving windows and objects around - in front, behind, off to the side, etc. A bit disorienting, perhaps, but miles better than any other 3D desktop that I've seen so far...
posted by Chunder at 7:27 AM on December 23, 2007


This wiimote, it's just a newer Cuecat, right?
posted by quiet at 7:34 AM on December 23, 2007 [1 favorite]


eye of newt: He ought to sell the LED pens on his website.

From his website: "I'm currently looking into manufacturing and selling IR pens, but this may take several months."
posted by quiet at 7:37 AM on December 23, 2007


Wow. I'd seen some of the others, but the head tracking one was neat.
posted by cashman at 8:27 AM on December 23, 2007


Very cool. But yeah, but Malor said.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:58 AM on December 23, 2007


Nintendo needs to hire this guy, like, yesterday. Like, a year ago.
posted by JHarris at 11:21 AM on December 23, 2007


I just thought of this: best of all, since these are on YouTube, this is definitely prior art. No company can patent this use now!
posted by JHarris at 11:27 AM on December 23, 2007


I want to try this--I teach in a seminar room with a computer and projector and would love to have a white board. And my son is getting a Wii for Christmas, so I have everything but the light pen. (Sorry, son!)
posted by LarryC at 11:42 AM on December 23, 2007


What we really need now is a link to a site telling how to make inexpensive LED-tipped light pens.

........

I said, "WHAT WE REALLY NEED NOW IS A LINK TELLING HOW TO MAKE LIGHT PENS!"

Sheesh, it's like they're not even listening.
posted by JHarris at 12:06 PM on December 23, 2007


How to make an IR Light Pen

posted by empath at 3:32 PM on December 23, 2007 [2 favorites]


Ah, there we go. Now go bring me a scotch. Snap snap!

Apparently being an obnoxious prick actually works. To think I've been doing it all wrong these years!
posted by JHarris at 4:33 PM on December 23, 2007


(Oh, and thanks empath, completely unironically. I vote you +3 karma, extra brownie points, and half-off coupons at Publix.)
posted by JHarris at 4:34 PM on December 23, 2007


Now if only the library of games wasn't primarily composed of crappy PS2 ports or kiddified mini-game collections.

Nintendo no longer sets any standards for developers and it shows. I'll pass.
posted by GavinR at 4:57 PM on December 22


Really? They must be doing something right, being the only system sold out for weeks on end?
posted by P.o.B. at 8:06 PM on December 23, 2007


Now if only the library of games wasn't primarily composed of crappy PS2 ports or kiddified mini-game collections.

Someone fails to understand the Wii. It's not about the graphics. That was for suckers (PS3, this means you). It's about the game play. Oh well,.....
posted by caddis at 10:01 PM on December 23, 2007


I was impressed no one fell for that troll... but it couldn't last forever.
posted by smackfu at 10:09 PM on December 23, 2007


Don't be such a killjoy. Just because it is Christmas Eve doesn't mean we can't trash this thread with a big bitchfest over a silly computer game. Only kids and morons play those things but they can still make for a good argument. ;)
posted by caddis at 6:40 PM on December 24, 2007


Nintendo needs to hire this guy, like, yesterday. Like, a year ago.

I have a feeling that there are a few companies who will see this video. I'll be shocked if he doesn't have at least two major offers by the end of the next quarter.
posted by middleclasstool at 9:02 PM on December 24, 2007


I've seen these videos linked all over the place, but finally just watched them. Thanks for the links.

This guy rocks. I want a wall-mounted projector shining onto my desktop with cheapo multitouch action now please.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:25 PM on December 25, 2007


Holy shit, the Head Tracking for Desktop VR one just BLEW MY MIND.

This is fantastic stuff.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:34 PM on December 25, 2007


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