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Hardware Hacking Wii

Wiimote Hacking Goes Big-Time 51

Posted by Zonk
from the it-takes-diff'rent-strokes-to-rule-the-world dept.
The Wall Street Journal is taking Wiimote hacking seriously. A front-page article from this past weekend discusses the many uses to which enterprising hackers have put the Wiimote, the motion sensing piece of the Wii console. Included is a video of a few of the projects in action. "Tim Groeneboom, who lives in the Netherlands, uses his Wii-mote to spice up his deejay act. He was inspired by a video on the Web of a California music student bobbing in front of the computer in his room and making jabbing motions with the Wii-mote to splice different tracks. During his second gig with the Wii-mote, Mr. Groeneboom, 22, says he was able to roam up to about 100 feet from his deejay booth and still be able to control how the music blended and do some sound effects ... Aaron Rasmussen has a sporting purpose for his Wii-mote. At his Garden Grove, Calif. software company, USMechatronics, he and his partner stuck a tennis racket in the 'hand' of a $40,000 industrial robot and then tweaked the Wii-mote to control the robot's arm so it can hit back tennis balls on the factory floor. 'This is what we do to relax,' he says."
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Wiimote Hacking Goes Big-Time

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  • Oh yes... (Score:1, Funny)

    by morari (1080535)
    Because DJs just scream "big time". Excuse me while I go roll my eyes...
  • See .... (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by Nerdfest (867930)
    This is what happens when the release of games slows down a little.
    • Re:See .... (Score:5, Funny)

      by faloi (738831) on Monday April 30, 2007 @02:17PM (#18931589)
      Nah, this is what happens when the only piece of Wii hardware you can find is the controller.
      • Exactly... (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        ...the wii doesn't even exist - it's somewhat like Switzerland in that sense...
        And it gets even scarier, because what do you get when you remove the S and tzerland from Switzerland ? That's right: WI! It's all a plot, I tell you. Next thing you'll hear is that the Swizz actually want to invent a black hole so they don't exist for real - ermmm....
        • Mike: You know, AC, you do know Wiis exist. Now what about Pearl's?

          Anonymous Coward: ... OK, so one Wii exists. That means all Wii exist?

          Mike: We'll be right back.

          Anonymous Coward: Name me one other Wii owner.

          Mike: Well I can... um....
      • by rickett81 (987309)
        I'm selling mine for what I have in it due to some funding issues. No takers yet. I think I decided to sell right as the stores actually are able to keep a few in stock (regionally)
      • by adisakp (705706)
        Nah, this is what happens when the only piece of Wii hardware you can find is the controller

        Dude, the last three times I went by BestBuy they were out of wiimotes :( I have no idea how they're selling out of wiimotes when it's still nearly impossible to buy a Wii.
        • by operato (782224)
          i can see high profit margins for a firm that can make a third party compatible wiimote.
        • Well, the Wii only comes with two remotes and one nun-chuck, so a lot of folks are buying two additional remotes and one (or more ) additional nun-chucks. (Passing two remotes between 4 players during a session of late-night drunken bowling sucks)
  • Power Glove? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by neostorm (462848) on Monday April 30, 2007 @02:15PM (#18931545)
    I am absolutely dying for someone (nintendo maybe even) to make a glove with a wii remote on each finger and thumb. Imagine the possibilities for interaction with a 3D environment with this. You'd be able to grasp things in the 3D space of your game, and your hands position could be tracked more accurately than any other device of a similar type has before. It would be an expensive piece of hardware, but I'd buy it if I could grasp a ball and throw it to another player in a networked game of... something where you throw balls at other players. It doesn't matter! It'd be great.

    • by skorch (906936)
      Not quite what you're looking for, but this is pretty close to a practical powerglove solution:

      http://youtube.com/watch?v=BS_87WoJ0j8 [youtube.com]
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Great idea. One neat implementation of this would be to show your middle finger to an opponent that's pissing you off. On a more serious note, I guess it could also be used in the next gen Guitar Hero games, called Piano Hero.
    • Re:Power Glove? (Score:5, Informative)

      by HanClinto (621615) <hanclinto@PLANCK ... minus physicist> on Monday April 30, 2007 @02:39PM (#18931919)
      That could be cool, but keep in mind that the WiiMote has two modes -- accellerometer mode and infrared pointing mode.

      Accellerometer mode is useful for things like shaking, tilting, and swinging. Sadly, it has almost nil information for determining where in space something actually is -- only how it's moving, and to back-extrapolate position from motion data is highly inaccurate.

      The way Wiimotes get highly sensitive positioning data for things like aiming and driving is by using the secomd mode, whihc is the infrared sensor mode. This only works when the Wiimote is pointing at a dual infrared source (the "sensor bar" that hangs out by your TV). So if you point the Wiimote at the floor, the Wii has very little idea of how your Wiimote is actually oriented.

      So what all this mumbo jumbo means for your PowerWiiGlove is that you would have to use accellerometer mode, and that it would make your glove highly inaccurate for detecting sensitive motion (such as manipulating VR objects). Your idea is highly feasible (especially with the advancements in small accellerometers that the Wiimote uses), but just not with the accellerometer configuration present in the existing Wiimote. In other words, your idea is good, but sit on it until Wii 2.0 comes out.

      --clint

      • Re:Power Glove? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Westacular (118145) on Monday April 30, 2007 @04:23PM (#18933341)
        Well, thanks to gravity, the accelerometers can do a pretty decent job of determining the orientation (roll and pitch) of a static Wiimote. That's actually how most of the driving games work: you handle the Wiimote as if it's the crossbar in a steering wheel, and the current degree of tilt to either side controls the steering.

        I imagine for a glove controller you could get a reasonable amount of information about a hand gesture from that; the lack of yaw data is a limiting factor.
        • Re:Power Glove? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by HanClinto (621615) <hanclinto@PLANCK ... minus physicist> on Monday April 30, 2007 @04:43PM (#18933605)
          You're exactly right about gravity being used to calculate pitch/roll. This is what I used when I made a rag-doll physics simulator for my Wiimote [sourceforge.net]. Sadly though, in order to be accurate, determining pitch/roll completely from the accellerometers [wiili.org] must assume that there is no linear accelleration of the controller itself. In most cases, this works fine for relatively imprecise things like driving, but I'm just a little concerned when there is a lot of precise movement involved (such as in a hand).

          However, as I'm thinking about it now, I guess the original idea isn't too bad. The basic solution is that you would have to have a Wiimote mounted on each bone in the simulated hand (one for the palm, 3 for each finger, 2 for the thumb, so 15 Wiimotes for a whole hand). Then for each bone, obtain the angle, then just use simple vector addition to get the relative positions for each of the joints. However, this still leaves you with the quandry that you have no idea where in space your hand is located, or if there is any yaw (left to right twisting), and you're back to needing a static reference point like the IR sensor bar. In other words, you would have a very accurately simulated human hand that would be correct as long as it wasn't accellerating, and it wouldn't let you simulate anything from the wrist-up. If you mounted 2 more Wiimotes to the player (one to the forearm, and one to the bicep), then you could have shoulder-down reproduction, and that would give you some decent control to pick up objects (again, just in a plane, since the Wiimotes could not detect yaw for the arm to turn from right-to-left).

          I guess now all we need is some smart-guy to strap about 13 Wiimotes to his body and use the vector addition to make a simple stick-figure of himself dance around on the screen. :) It wouldn't be nearly as accurate as standard motion-capture tools (since the pitch/roll angle calculations are so limited by assuming zero linear accelleration), but it would be accurate enough to make a cool YouTube video and get posted on Slashdot. :)

      • by tepples (727027)

        The way Wiimotes get highly sensitive positioning data for things like aiming and driving is by using the secomd mode, whihc is the infrared sensor mode. This only works when the Wiimote is pointing at a dual infrared source (the "sensor bar" that hangs out by your TV). So if you point the Wiimote at the floor, the Wii has very little idea of how your Wiimote is actually oriented.

        So put out three IR bars: one on the floor in front of the monitor, one below the monitor, and one above the monitor. Then have the receiver switch among them once a bar goes out of range and/or based on the angle between gravity and the accelerometers' XYZ axes.

        • by HanClinto (621615)
          Just so you know, the "IR sensor bar" isn't actually a sensor bar -- it's really just a dual high-output infrared source. Basically two infrared LEDs that give the Wiimote an absolute reference point. The infrared receiver is actually in the Wiimote itself. To show this, it's not hard to perform an experiment by removing the IR bar and replacing it with two candles spaced 6-12 inches apart. The Wiimote will pick them up as infrared sources, and work just as well as the normal IR bar (until they run out or s
          • by tepples (727027)

            the Wiimotes get confused if they see too many infrared sources at the same time, and if you could keep them from getting confused, it would take some math to figure out which infrared source the Wiimote is pointing at.

            Which is why such a system would turn on only one IR bar at once, doing the math to determine when one IR bar is going out of range.

            (though it still wouldn't work if you're picking up an object that blocks the Wiimote's LOS to the IR source).

            In my experience, such objects are usually people walking past the TV to get to the fridge or the like, and gamer etiquette handles such cases.

            • by HanClinto (621615)

              Which is why such a system would turn on only one IR bar at once, doing the math to determine when one IR bar is going out of range.
              Aaah, okay. I didn't understand that part of your comment at first, but now I see what you mean. So it sounds like you would only want one of the dozen-or-so Wiimotes to actually have IR sensing turned on, and all of the other positions are just extrapolated by the angle difference information. I could see that now, yeah.

              --clint

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Arceliar (895609)

      I'd buy it if I could grasp a ball and throw it to another player in a networked game of... something where you throw balls at other players.
      ...I really need to get my mind out of the gutter.
    • by marto (110299)
      This sounds like an interesting idea. Some of the basic 'games' from the Tron movie would suit such a device. However I owned one of the few Power Gloves that made it to the UK, I was one disappointed kid :)
      • by sapochule (994678)

        (...) However I owned one of the few Power Gloves that made it to the UK, I was one disappointed kid :)

        That's because you never got your hands on 'Glove Masturbator 2000' featuring Pamela Anderson and Silvia Saint
    • by insanius (1058584)
      why stop there?...why not just release those funny looking mo-cap spandex suits with all the balls attached as the WiiSuit??
    • a networked game of... something where you throw balls at other players.
      Perhaps you're thinking of just about ANY sports game on the market?
    • by smbarbour (893880)
      You mean like this?

      P5 Virtual Reality Glove [vrealities.com]

      This is the same device used in "Minority Report". It's been around for quite some time, and it has a few patches for games as well. Specifically, it worked with "Black & White". I never actually used it, but it would apparently control the game exactly as you would expect, since you actually "grab" things in the game.
    • by StryfeX (1046428)
      Or you could feel up some nice looking pixels.

      ... What?
    • OH, I KNOW what you really want to do with that Wii Glove while you play the Leisure Suite Larry anthology...
  • Does anyone know if the new dongle from MSFT that allows you to use a wireless 360 controller on the PC can sync a wii remote to the PC?
    • Nope. But, a good old-fashioned Bluetooth dongle (just about any of them) will do the job just fine, as well as work with just about anything else Bluetooth.
  • Wiimote on the PS3? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jafo (11982) * on Monday April 30, 2007 @03:33PM (#18932701) Homepage
    The Wiimote is bluetooth, the PS3 controllers are bluetooth, why don't we have bowling and boxing, using the Wiimote, on the PS3? I mean, there is a driver for Linux to use the Wiimote, and the PS3 runs Linux, so...

    The Wiimote and the games that use it are really the only part of the Wii that are at all interesting. The console itself is not that good, it's basically PS-2 generation horsepower and video. So why don't we have titles that support the option of using a Wiimote with the PS3?

    Now, the PS3 has enough horsepower, and the Wii has little enough, that I wonder how hard it would be to build a Wii emulator for the PS3. Who would support this effort? How about the games companies who aren't selling anywhere near their potential because people like me haven't been able to get a console for the last 5 months? Seems like they'd have a pretty stong incentive...

    I say this in part because in December I was quite hot to get a Wii, specifically for this set of holiday parties we have. However, I've seen a Wii in the stores *ONCE* since November. At the time (January) I thought "Oh, the supply problems are over", but I haven't seen them in the stores since then.

    Sean
    • by hellfire (86129)
      What part of the world are you in? In the philadelphia/delaware area in the US, I've seen remotes at best buy, target, and walmart almost every time I've checked since March. I finally broke down and bought WiiPlay which comes with a remote (basically a reasonably fun $10 game bundled with a $40 remote that they cleverly advertise as a $50 game with a free remote... ha ha ha).
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by c_forq (924234)

      the console itself is not that good, it's basically PS-2 generation horsepower and video.

      Two nitpicks. One is the PS2 had the lowest horsepower and video of the last generation. Second is I am beginning to suspect this is not quite true. When playing Wii boxing I noticed a few things that make me think the Wii is packing some serious shader power. Next time you play Wii Sports try out boxing, and notice how there are a large number of screens showing what is happening in the ring, notice the lighting o

    • by seebs (15766)
      Linux on the PS3 works with framebuffer video, because Sony locked down the GPU.

      I don't think this'll change.

      So, really, the Wii is pretty tempting, and anyway, it's powerful enough to run interesting games. It's a lot more powerful than the PS2; even the Gamecube was arguably a bit more powerful than the PS2.
    • Enh. I bought one yesterday, after seeing [crayz.org] that they were all over the Targets in the North Dallas area. According to that, there's still several to be had the day after...I was the last of my group of friends who wanted one to get one, and its largely because I was just too lazy to bother finding one.
  • Yeah, right (Score:3, Funny)

    by plover (150551) * on Monday April 30, 2007 @04:23PM (#18933345) Homepage Journal
    I loved this line from TFA, regarding Chris Hughes controlling his Roomba with a Wiimote: "She's hoping the invention means the house will now stay cleaner."

    Be sure to let us know how that works out.

  • It would be neat if you could hold a wimote in each hand as if you are holding a pair of tongs (or poles, or chopsticks), and pick things up. Like a UFO catcher type game, or lots of things.
    • by ZzzzSleep (606571)
      While not quite what you were looking for, I believe that Godfather: Blackhand Edition has something similar.

      Review from Console Gameworld [gwn.com]

      Both fists are mapped to the Wii remote and nunchuck so if you hold down the Z Button and thrust forward with your right hand, your character will perform a quick right jab. You can also swing your arm around and your character will perform a slower but more powerful hook. The real fun however, starts when you grab your opponent by holding Z and B at the same time.

  • www.thesentrygun.com/ indicates that the cimpany was originally established for that purpose. Oddly enough, I see no reference tho that original project on the site anymore.

    Hey "wintersynth (915045)", what happened there?

    I find it amusing that there are references to "military applications" and to "murderous robots" in the previous article on that, without anybody noticing this is the sentry gun company.

  • I'd like to see a title make use of four Wiimote's for martial arts training (Katas in Karate come to mind, for instance). I don't own a Wii, so I don't know if four wiimotes could be connected to the Wii, but it would also make an interesting environment for beat'em ups and so on.

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