Yes, you read the title correctly – this article will discuss how it is incredibly possible for you to take a standard Wii remote and with a minimal investment in time and extremely minimal investment of money (under $100), you can create an interactive whiteboard on any surface. Let me preface this article by saying that I would have never believed this was possible unless I saw it in action (which all of you can do via the TED talk video below).
Researcher Johnny Lee has found a way to utilize the Nintendo Wii remote and the infrared camera present in that remote to track infrared pens (that you can make yourself or purchase online) in such a manner that software on your computer can make those pens react like an Interactive Whiteboard.
For a better understanding of how it works, check out the TED talk where the developer features the system in action:
Here is a brief description of what the technology is capable of, right from Johnny Lee’s website:
Since the Wiimote can track sources of infrared (IR) light, you can track pens that have an IR led in the tip. By pointing a wiimote at a projection screen or LCD display, you can create very low-cost interactive whiteboards or tablet displays. Since the Wiimote can track upto 4 points, up to 4 pens can be used. It also works great with rear-projected displays.
It goes without saying that this is a pretty cool innovation – especially since so many of us likely already have a Wiimote that we could utilize for this purpose. It is also fantastic that Mr. Lee has graciously provided the software that makes all this work for free from his website (a link below in the resources section).
The even more interesting part of this system is that you aren’t bound to a Whiteboard Panel or any type of special surface at all. Assuming you have a way to mount the Wiimote in a place that it gets an adequate viewing angle of your surface, any surface will work. This includes walls, tables, floors, and even your existing LCD computer screen.
Take a look at this video made by the developer for some information regarding setup and use:
Here is a Step-by-Step to follow when securing the necessary equipment to make this work:
- Get a Wiimote (Wii remote sold by nintendo – Amazon link).
- Pair the Wiimote with your computer using Bluetooth.
- Get/Make an IR Pen to use as your pointing device.
- Download the free Wiimote Whiteboard software on your computer.
- Determine what display you will be using (projector, flatscreen TV, monitor, etc)
- Setup your Wiimote at an angle that still allows it to see the IR light on your pens.
- Fire up the Whiteboard software on your computer.
- Calibrate your screen with the IR pen.
- Start interacting!
You may have noticed that I linked ‘Get’ to a site called WiiTeachers.com. This is a great resource to purchase everything you need for this project, although everything that is needed can realistically be made on your own (with a touch of skill).
I feel like this has countless applications in education and can save a small fortune considering the costs involved in purchasing a full Interactive Whiteboard. Besides using this as a primary display in a classroom, what other great educational uses can you think of?
Considering there are several outside resources necessary for you to get all the info about this, here is a list of links for your convenience:
I am really excited about this and I hope to hear other success stories from educators that are able to build an interactive display using a $50 Wiimote.
Also, a special thanks to Johnathan Jacks for turning me on to this information!