Ian Hoar – Passion for Technology – Geeking Out - Technology, Web, Toys, Games, Design, Entertainment, Gadgets, & Geeking Out

Turning a Wii Remote into a Minority Report style input device and virtual reality

While writing and researching my post on the new Asus Eee stick game controller I came across the incredible website of Johnny Chung Lee, a Ph.D. Graduate Student of the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.

His entire website looks interesting and I plan to dig around some more when I get some time, but what really caught my attention was his Wii projects YouTube videos. These videos show everything from Minority Report style interaction to virtual reality all using a Wiimote for the underlying technology. Minority Report is a near future science fiction movie starring Tom Cruise and directed by Steven Spielberg. The film was released in 2002 and featured a lot of fictional technology that many people said was within the realm of reality in the near future.

Minority Report Input Screen

Minority Report computer terminal

Although Johnny Chung Lee’s demonstrations are no wear near as fantastic as those we see in the film, it does give us a tantalizing look at what the future may hold. As I watch his video’s I find my mind running wild with idea’s of what the game consoles, computer interfaces and even the web of tomorrow will look like. How we interact with computers will probably change drastically over the next 20 years, and if you are like me you probably can’t wait. I think of where we are today, and then I think back to my Commodore 64 days over 20 years ago and see how much things have changed. Couple that with the fact that technology is exponential in growth and you know we are going to have some amazing gadgets and computers over the next 20 years. The iPhone multi-touch is an example of a new way of interacting with a computer device and that is just the start.

Further down he demo’s a Multi-point Interactive Whiteboard. These have existed before now, but they are very expensive, and his demo uses a simple setup again with a Wiimote. He says you can use up to four pens.

The last demo on the page is a virtually reality demo and this is probably truly the most stunning; you really have to see it to understand. When we look at a television screen, the image does not move when we move. This is what makes it look static, but in the example shown, he tapes the Wiimote sensors to a camera and even in the video you can see the effect this has. Your TV goes from looking like a static picture to a window frame with depth, where things move when your head moves and you can actually look around objects.

This effectively transforms your display into a portal to a virtual environment. The display properly reacts to head and body movement as if it were a real window creating a realistic illusion of depth and space.

If you are feeling ambitious he has links to everything you need to replicate his demos. For a glimpse of technologies you may be using in the future check out his site.

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