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Hardware Hacking Wii Technology

Multitouch Without Touch Using Wiimote 94

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the right-touch dept.
owlgorithm writes to mention that Gizmodo has a neat hack for the multitouch Holy Grail — multitouch without the touch. This hack turns the Wiimote into a receiver for IR light reflected from an emitter off of your fingers using reflective tape.
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Multitouch Without Touch Using Wiimote

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  • by Digitus1337 (671442) <lk_digitus.hotmail@com> on Monday November 12, 2007 @03:51PM (#21327085) Homepage
    That we'd get our first glimpse of those cool minority report interfaces from a game console. I always figured it would be thanks to porn.
  • by Cerberus7 (66071) on Monday November 12, 2007 @03:58PM (#21327189)
    (oblig.) I love the Power Glove. It's so bad.

    This could be really awesome. I can see this as a great way to bring good strategy games to consoles. It might even be better than a mouse. Supreme Commander with your fingers on a Wii? Nevermind that the Wii would gag on the graphics load, but the gameplay is intriguing.
    • by KDR_11k (778916)
      I think the Wii would gag more on the CPU load, Supreme Commander is much worse for the CPU than the GPU.
  • Good Point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blhack (921171) * on Monday November 12, 2007 @03:58PM (#21327197)
    At the end he makes a very good point. Your arms get tired after a while. As cool as the interface in minority report might be....it isn't very practical. Keyboard and mouse interfaces have lasted for so long because they are VERY VERY good....a mouse is a perfect way of interacting with your monitor...you're using a 2d surface to interface with another 2d surface (not to mention the fact that you can let go of a mouse, and it stays in the same place....unlike a wacom tablet, or this thing). If we ever get to a point where monitors truly are 3d (which seems rather pointless to me, albeit cool)...then something like this MIGHT make sense....that is if you tracked it in all 3 dimensions.
    • by Gibble (514795) on Monday November 12, 2007 @04:00PM (#21327233) Homepage
      Heaven forbid any of us geeks build up some arm strength by doing more than pushing a mouse around!
      • When I was in boot camp, sometimes they would punish us by making us hold a pencil. We had to hold it with both arms held straight out. We were young kids in pretty decent shape and it didn't take long at all for it to get pretty painful. Just the weight of holding up your arms can get to be too much after a while.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by The FNP (1177715)

          When I was in boot camp, sometimes they would punish us by making us hold a pencil. We had to hold it with both arms held straight out. We were young kids in pretty decent shape and it didn't take long at all for it to get pretty painful. Just the weight of holding up your arms can get to be too much after a while.

          If they had you hold your arms out to the sides instead of out in front, it would have had another name: Crucifixion. Anything done long enough can be painful.

          I'd be very glad to see an actual game or product along these lines as it would introduce more exercise into the lives of the users. A really simple product that would work well with this would be in fast food. instead of having the workers touch a button with their gloves or hands, they just select the option they want in the air. And tell me,

          • by nuzak (959558)
            When they crucify you they're nice enough to tie you there. Nail you if you're really special.
        • PENCIL? Hell, when I was in basic, they made us hold out a rubber duck (solid plastic M16 simulator). Pencil. Sheesh. Wimp.
          • It was the navy - what do you want? Our day at the range they did it to us with .45s. Holding that up straight out was no fun. But lest some innocent reader think I don't deserve the wimp moniker you have bestowed upon me - the .45 was chambered for .22. I shot 16 rounds if I remember and that was the one and only time I ever handled a functioning firearm while in the military. The last thing the Navy needs is sailors running around on a ship with guns. We had marines for that.
            • Everyone knows that the navy trains with swords to protect us from roaming bands of pirates. Aaargh!
      • by sootman (158191)
        Hey, lots of geeks have *ahem* ways of building up arm strength.
    • Re:Good Point (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Monday November 12, 2007 @04:01PM (#21327249) Homepage Journal
      I can see this owrking really nicely with a glass table.
      Who says you have to aim at the tv?
      It might work coming to the actual glass surface which means you could lay your arm down and rest it like a mouse but you have the third dimension when you need it.
      • by bane2571 (1024309)
        Hell, turn your TV face up Ala Gallaga and put the wiimote on the roof and you've got some high level awesome right there.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CastrTroy (595695)
      I don't think that something like this would take over as the standard form of input, however, it could be useful for doing things like presentations. Imagine if you were in a small meeting, with about 5 people, and each one had a wiimote, and each one was able to draw things on the screen. Somebody watching a presentation could point the wiimote at a diagram to show everyone exactly what part he was asking a question about. Just because it isn't the best solution in all cases, doesn't mean it's can't be
      • That is a very good point. In fact, I found a video showing what appears to be some people using a multitouch like interface such as this to control a presentation of 3d modeling. I think this will become the interface standard for interactive presentations in the future.

        Video Here [dhadm.com]
      • by voxel (70407)
        >> Somebody watching a presentation could point the wiimote at a diagram to show everyone exactly what part he was asking a question about

        If only we had some kind of really cheap laser pen type thingy... oh wait.
    • Re:Good Point (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Tom (822) on Monday November 12, 2007 @04:22PM (#21327461) Homepage Journal
      You haven't seen Jeff Han's talk [ted.com].
    • Ever tried working retail? Your legs get really tired at first, but you get used to it after only a few days. The body's muscles are actually really good at adapting to increased activity. I'm sure it would be no different with this sort of interface.
    • by MOBE2001 (263700)
      Your arms get tired after a while.

      I don't see this as a problem. Artists and painters (think Sixtine Chapel, Michelangelo, Da Vinci, etc...) have been using their arms for ages. The trick is that you don't have to keep your arms up all the time. Every so often you must step back to take a look at your work and you drop your arms when you do. All it takes is short rest periods between work.

      Personally, I believe that the multi-touch interface is perfect for parallel computer programming [blogspot.com]. In the future, progra
      • by porl (932021)

        In the future, programming will become almost entirely compositional. Just drag'm and drop'm.

        that's what was being said in the 80s... the truth is, while it is 'cool' it is a lot more limiting for low level stuff and complex algorithms. maybe some things would work (probably the same sort of programs that will benefit from technologies like adobe's 'thermo' and multimedia work), but just like visual basic was supposed to change the way everyone programmed but fell way short of the mark when people realised that ease of use and *complete* control are essentially mutually exclusive, this phrase (in

    • He is just less clever than he could have been that is all.

      You could probably make this a flat surface representation where the wii not be on your television but below your hand which rests on glass. There are some interface issues that have to be taken into account as controlling something like windows does not work in this situation, but if you had an apple iphone like interface it would work great.

    • by merreborn (853723)

      Keyboard and mouse interfaces have lasted for so long because they are VERY VERY good....a mouse is a perfect way of interacting with your monitor

      The fuck they are! Keyboards and mice are relatively dreadful, quite frankly. Have you ever tried to draw with a mouse? It's like painting with a shoe. They're also extremely difficult to use for millions of people with various motor-related disabilities. And what's worse using them improperly (which most people do) *causes* disabilities -- carpal tunnel synd

    • (not to mention the fact that you can let go of a mouse, and it stays in the same place....unlike a wacom tablet, or this thing)
      just lift the pen away from a wacom tablet and the cursor stays in it's place. Same here, close your hand so the reflecting tape isn't pointed at the tv, and you "turn it off" (the software could easily leave the cursor where it is)
    • by SQLGuru (980662)
      Expand your view, man.....who says you have to stick to just your fingers.....you can work gestures into movement without relying on holding your arms in front of you the whole time.....

      I'm thinking 3D, First Person, Street Fighter.....using gestures and reflective tape in the right spots and I can just imagine "Ha-dou-Ken!" You should be able to get distance from it (size of dot in the video seemed to already indicate it)...speed (jab vs strong). (Of course, for the first idiot that actually tries Guile'
    • I play the violin in my spare time. I don't play more than a couple of hours at a time, but I certainly don't feel much worse for it. Build up some muscles, it's not hard and won't kill you.
  • by compumike (454538) on Monday November 12, 2007 @03:59PM (#21327223) Homepage
    But software will only take you so far. There's a lot of unique PC to human interactions that are possible, but this world needs more hardware hackers.

    In any case, this is a neat demo. People have been doing this on a much bigger, 3D, expensive $$$ scale with something called a Vicon Motion Capture System [vicon.com]. They basically take a whole bunch of those cameras, and a whole bunch of LED arrays, and strobe them so that they get a picture of little reflective points from many different angles. They then use some trigonometry to figure out where, in 3D space, a particular point is. Cool stuff -- good to see it's being brought closer to everyone's homes, rather than the tens of thousands of dollars that Vicon charges.

    --
    Educational microcontroller kits for the digital generation. [nerdkits.com]
  • by xeno (2667) on Monday November 12, 2007 @04:03PM (#21327261)
    ok, i appreciate the true geekitude of taping your fingers with reflective stuff to air-type, but editing the video to 4:04 is just over the top nerdiness.

    damn.
    • Not really, if he posted just the end result, it would be a bunch of "BS" or "Not Real" comments, you really have to show everything unless you want the MythBusters [youtube.com] knocking at your door.
    • by hswerdfe (569925)
      er...it was 4:06,
      to Quote Duglas Adams:
        "nobody jokes in base 13, it's just not funny."
  • by bobbaddeley (981674) on Monday November 12, 2007 @04:27PM (#21327501) Homepage

    The "Holy Grail" of multitouch without the touch is a pretty old problem. I've been working on something at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory for a while called the HI-Space table, and it was around before I came to the lab. It uses infrared and a camera and detects multiple inputs simultaneously, as well as object placed on the table. It doesn't require touching at all and works fairly well, detecting not only single fingers but each of the fingers, allowing the user to do different things with different arrangements of fingers. It understands motions as well, and can detect a swipe, circle, etc. Objects aren't tagged with anything special; they're just cardboard shapes.

    Here's a video of the HI-Space table in action: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFBoq1i81V4 [youtube.com]

    Here's an old link to some of the work: http://infoviz.pnl.gov/hces/ [pnl.gov]

  • Stuck in our past. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bigattichouse (527527) on Monday November 12, 2007 @04:28PM (#21327509) Homepage
    Seems to me we always seem to be building technology to make old ideas into a reality. I've always felt that all these hands-free interface ideas look like wizards waving their hands around in the air. If they had eye-glass headsup displays, they'd look like they're casting spells or something.

    Its not that it is indistinguishable from magic, its that were TRYING to make it look like that.

    Just a thought.
    • by fractoid (1076465)
      "Any sufficiently cool technology is indistinguishable from Magic Missile IV". ;)
    • We keep thinking things like this are a good idea. For instance, the Theremin [wikipedia.org], after a burst of initial popularity, never took off. Though it looks easy to play, it's in fact quite difficult, because there's no tactile feedback. Coming in at the right pitch after a long rest is hard, which is why you don't see many pieces for orchestra and Theremin; instead, the Ondes Martenot [wikipedia.org], which has a keyboard to indicate pitch, is used.

      There's a rift in the Theremin world over people who play in the traditional

  • are just like his, they're made of skin.:)
  • Danger to eyes (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 12, 2007 @04:34PM (#21327577)
    I would be careful making very bright infrared light. Because your eyes do not pick them up, your pupils will not know to shrink in bright infrared light.

    I would suggest doing this in a very well lit room, and NEVER in the dark, or you will likely seriously damage your eyes.
    • Re:Danger to eyes (Score:5, Insightful)

      by francium de neobie (590783) on Monday November 12, 2007 @04:52PM (#21327837)
      Exactly the same thing I've been thinking after watching the demo. Although our eyes cannot see the IR light it can still pass onto the retina without much trouble. Using that thing for an extended period of time would quite probably damage the eyes.
      • by Vellmont (569020)

        Although our eyes cannot see the IR light it can still pass onto the retina without much trouble.

        Anything that's warm gives off IR light. Are you saying in a dark room looking at another person for too long will do damage to your eyes?

        This thing gives off IR in a different frequency than the human body of course, but if in general IR light is "dangerous", then we'd all be blind years ago.

        Using that thing for an extended period of time would quite probably damage the eyes.

        I doubt it. IR is lower in energy/
        • Re:Danger to eyes (Score:4, Informative)

          by blincoln (592401) on Monday November 12, 2007 @05:46PM (#21328569) Homepage Journal

          This thing gives off IR in a different frequency than the human body of course, but if in general IR light is "dangerous", then we'd all be blind years ago.


          The near-IR light given off by this type of device has very little to do with thermal IR. It is much closer to visible red light, just a bit lower frequency (a couple of hundred nm or less difference, versus thermal IR being closer to ten times lower frequency).
          Human eyes are also opaque to thermal IR, which is related to what the GP was getting at - near-IR is potentially dangerous because your eyes are transparent to it, but your retina has very little sensitivity to it. I doubt the amount of NIR illumination here is very significant, but imagine the equivalent of having a bright flashlight stuck in your face, except without the ability of your pupils to contract in response.
        • by rgravina (520410)

          Are you saying in a dark room looking at another person for too long will do damage to your eyes?

          Slashdotters don't have girlfriends, so there's not much chance of that happening.
      • Of course, you could just put single IR LEDs into fingers on gloves, and power them with a CR2032 battery or something. TFA's solution is actually kinda overkill.
  • I just wonder what if I can play with my penis ... Super Mario P3rn III
  • Now Mr. Bimble can play video games on his own.
  • Am I the only one somewhat uneased by the though of having an array of 30-40 relatively high-power leds shining in your eyes without ones pupil contracting? Or might it be that the wavelength of the IR leds happens to be absorbed by water in the eye? Anyone with some knowledge?
    • by jcenters (570494)
      No worries, unless your eyes are capable of picking up IR. On second thought, this might make an excellent anti-Predator device.
      • I do know that sufficiently high intensity IR can be very damaging, coagulating the cornea or "burning" the retina, it's especially dangerous as you can't see the light, you just get your eyes fried. So IR is definitely not inherently safe, on the contrary it's potentially very dangerous, though I'm not at all sure how much light is needed.
    • When hot objects emit IR they emit it in a very wide range of frequencies, and thus the intensity at any individual frequency is not to high, but the total amount of energy deposited can be large enough to be dangerous. With an LED it is the exact opposite. The LED emits relatively little IR, but it pumps it all into a quite narrow range of frequencies. The consequence is that your detector can distinguish the LED light from background noise, even at relatively modest power levels. Is this enough to make th
  • by Earered (856958) <morel_casimir@NOsPam.hotmail.com> on Monday November 12, 2007 @04:55PM (#21327865) Homepage Journal
    I'm sorry for the awful picture you will get in your mind if you continue reading.

    But it occured to me that you could use a penis instead of a finger (giving it another use beside: http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2007/03/21 [penny-arcade.com] )

    (Why, oh why this thought came to me...)
  • I'm no doctor, but it can't be good to flood your eyes with infrared light.

    http://www.google.com/search?q=infrared+light+damage+eyes
    • This would be easily fixed by just putting the LEDs on your fingers, instead of reflective tape. Yeah, you'd have to wear some kind of glove thing, but you could also pulsate different gloves' LEDs at different frequencies and have multi-multi-touch for situations with more than one player.
    • Perhaps I'm mistaken, but I vaguely recall seeing a article about the MPAA shooting infrared light from behind movie screens into the crowd to determine if anyone was using a camcorder to copy live movies.
  • While this was an impressive video, it leaves me wondering how to try it out at home. I assume there are more than a few web pages talking about grabbing wiimote data via bluetooth, but what software could you use to display multi-touch inputs on a PC screen?
    • by grumbel (592662)
      Any Wiimote software that can display the raw IR data will work (wmgui for example). However, thats the easy part, the hard part is finding software or writing it so that you can actually do something usefull with that data.
  • I am pretty sure you could do the same thing with a Webcam instead of a Wii Remote.

    This is actually a little closer to how a multi touch "surface" does it.

    This would merely require - as many DIY multitouch sites mention - removing the IR filter from your Webcam - and perhaps even replacing it with a visible light filter, as to pass IR only.

  • Since wiimotes are cheap and they seem to be sensitive enough and the bluetooth is usefull, can these IR camera setups be used in say a group of minimum of 3 but the more the merrier of course to build a mocap rig? Of course some good softwares will be needed but I am sure the community will provide me with that.
  • No need to even solder a single wire if you point two Wiimotes at the screen and use their relative positions to do stuff.
  • Just in case anyone wanted to try something like these. You can make a similar interface with a webcam and lighted fingers and surf google earth with it. Intructions are here: http://atlasgloves.org/ [atlasgloves.org]
  • As cool as this is, I don't see it being useful anywhere for one simple reason: if the wiimote is up on the tv, you don't get buttons. Wonderful for pointing at stuff, or even just for kicks and giggles, but you couldnt even make a mii with this hack.

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