Johnny Lee: Wii Remote hacks


Johnny Chung Lee is a Human-Computer Interaction researcher currently working at Google. Lee is best known for his work on Kinect development.


Researchers sometimes use vast resources to achieve their goal. Sometimes the best solution uses cheap, off-the-shelf products to do somethine similar. Johnny shows off some hacks taking advantage of the Wii-mote – a cheap game controller (~$40) with its motion sensing capabilities and infra-red camera.

  • With the right software, and a cheap infra-red pen (can be built for $5), the Wii-mote’s IR camera can simulate a digital white board (worth $3,000). This software has been downloaded half a million times.
  • By putting the Wii-mote’s IR camera under a TV screen, and fitting a (cheap) IR sensor to the viewer’s head, the screen will track them. So as they move around the room, the 3D interface on screen will show them a different perspective. This could allow a new type of video games.

Johnny is also amazed at how these hacks have gained popularity – using Youtube. Within days of posting videos of these hacks, he was already seeing others imitating the work. He hopes in future Youtube will be used to its full potential by researchers to publish results.

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