Surf through Google Earth using Wii Fit Balance Board

June 11, 2008 – 9:34 pm

wiiiconNintendo’s Wii controllers have opened up a whole new world of human interactive user inputs that has only been scratched on the surface with its prepackaged games.

Creative individuals around the world utilized Nintendo’s amazing Wii technology to develop new ways to manipulate the digital realm

Matthieu Deru and Simon Bergweiler from the German Research Center interfaced the Wii Balance board with Google Earth to allow you to navigate the landscape in a virtual reality-like surfing interaction.

The Wii fit balance board communicates to the PC via bluetooth. From there, they wrote a C++ program to allow you control with Google earth and Second Life.

They have a video of how ‘flying’ through Google earth by standing on the Wii Fit Balance Board.

Definitely cool. It looks like the the experience of flying over mountains and cities in Google Earth is pretty smooth. The potential of this interface can provide virtual reality experiences of various landmarks around the world, in the ocean and even in space in a fully interactive interface.

Johnny Lee from Carnegie Mellon University used the wiimote, ballpoint pens modified with IR lights and his custom software to be able to make practically any surface into a multitouch screen. The video shows how he used a projector screen, a desktop and even turns a regular laptop screen into a multitouch screen:

Another cool hack by Johnny Lee has also developed a method to use your fingers as controllers in 3d space, similar to the interface in Minority Report

His first very cool hack with wii hardware was his head tracking software. This mod places the wiimote on your head and it becomes a 3D head tracking system which allows you to look around corners on the screen.

Johnny Lee’s website provides technical details along with downloads so that you can try his hacks at home with some elbow grease and your Wii.

Nintendo has truly broken new ground with its innovative Wii Console. Beyond selling tons of consoles and games, the associated technology utilized commonly used protocols to allow creative individuals to program interfaces beyond its current software.

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