Wii Hacks and Other Innovative Interfaces

For years, we have dreamed of liberation from the limitations of our computer. We wanted a computer that was portable. We wanted to use controls that were designed for humans, and not for computers. We wanted to be free when interacting with our world. And we wanted the computer to just understand us.

Here are few examples of innovative user interfaces:

Head Tracking & VR

I’ve learned about Johnny Chung Lee about two years ago, when a video instructing how to create a hand tracking  user input device that costs less than $50 went viral on the net. Since that day, I’ve followed Johnny Lee with awe, as he was involved in many other innovative interface projects.

How to use the Wiimote to create head tracking, and enhance first person shooters to full body motion. And the code is open source, so you can download it and start making games.

Low Cost Electronic Whiteboard

How to use a simple projector with the Wiimote to create an electronic whiteboard at a fraction of the price. If you are like me, you like using a physical pen and whiteboard to express yourself, but hate copying the result of your doodling session. Problem solved.

Direct Muscle-Computer Interface

Using electrodes to read the electric pulses from you arm muscles can turn your hand into a four-key input device. This can help you control devices when your hands are busy – for example, when exercising or carrying the groceries. It can also be used to play air-guitar hero, Guitar Hero with an air-guitar!

Project Netal

This amazing project by Microsoft is turning computer vision to a whole new level, making the Wiimote feel like a clunky legacy from a time when we actually needed controllers in order to interact with computers. Netal is by far one of the most ambitious projects I’ve seen in a while. I suppose there’s a good chance it won’t be as good as promised, but there is still time to hope.

The Sixth Sense

Pranav Mistry turns the computer and the entire Internet into a wearable, portable, invisible tool that enhances our lives wherever we may go. Using current day technology, he was able to create a new paradigm of personal computing. Unlike Netal, Sixth Sense isn’t pushing the boundaries of what is algorithmically possible. It uses simple mechanisms to change the way we interact with computers, to create a more useful synthesis between the real and the virtual world.