Ever since I saw Johnny Chung Lee's videos of what you can do with a Wii remote control for the first time in March 2008, I wanted to try and built a smartboard (i.e. interactive whiteboard) with a Wiimote. I didn't really get around to it, but this weekend I finally started experimenting. Got myself some infrared light emitting diodes, and grabbed the Wiimotes from the Wii console in the living room.
Johnny Lee demonstrating the Wiimote based smartboard
Johnny Chung Lee created the software to be able to connect the Wiimote to your laptop via Bluetooth, but that software is Windows only. I found a suitable Mac-compatible version on the website of Uwe Schmidt, and that installed without a hitch.
The Wiimote has an infrared camera at the front and is able to see up to 4 moving infrared objects at the same time. But to use it you need an infrared lightsource, a light pen. Using an IR LED (of unknown type), a resistor and a momentary switch I created a prototype set-up on a breadboard. In the video below you can see that the LED is not very bright, and the angle of the light it projects not very wide. This means the Wiimote may have some difficulty spotting it at certain angles.
Using my breadboard set-up as a light pen (more like a light brick ;) ) I already had a proof of concept, placing the Wiimote camera near my laptop.
Working prototype as proof of concept. See the mouse pointer move on the screen.
The next step was checking if I could use it at some distance as well. Putting the Wiimote (and then 2) at one end of the home office, and then use the light pen on the far wall (the green wall in the pics) worked nicely, both with 1 and 2 Wiimotes.
I have a feeling that my IR LEDs aren't the right ones to use in this case, so I ordered some of the type that is mentioned everywhere as the most suitable LED to use (higher power, wider angle of light, makes do with 1 penlight battery), the Vishay TSAL6400.
Next steps for this little project are:
a) experiment with different positions of the Wiimote camera
b) buying myself a projector (I need one anyway), so I can actually project my computerscreen on a surface,
c) testing the basic set-up using the Vishay LEDs
d) make a usable pen or pointing device, and then make a few more (for multi-touch experiments)
e) make a little stand for the Wiimote
f) get an additional Wiimote if everything works
Hopefully I will then have a quick and cheap smartboard solution I can take with me everywhere I go to present. After all, if a projector is already in place, all you need to bring is the IR pen and a Wii remote.
Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Wiimote Whiteboard.
TrackBack URL for this entry: