Videogame Hardware Hacks: Innovation Beyond the Intended Purpose

August 24, 2011

The following two videos show specific videogame hardware hacks that allow for innovation beyond their intended purpose. In the first, the Wii remote is used to create an interactive whiteboard, and, in the second, the free-moving Kinect is used to map rooms and objects in detailed 3D.

Johnny Lee Demos Wii Remote Hacks

“Building sophisticated educational tools out of cheap parts; Johnny Lee demos his cool Wii Remote hacks, which turn the $40 video game controller into a digital whiteboard, a touchscreen and a head-mounted 3-D viewer.”

This video was filmed in 2008, but still holds true to many concerns of today, showing how the diffusion of innovation can take a number of years to implement. The idea of cheap education aids will benefit many underprivileged children all over the world. If they could essentially buy an interactive whiteboard for less than $300 with the use of the Wii remote, then students in third world countries may be able to greatly improve their computer skills and get a head start learning the technology of today.

Free-Moving Kinect Used To Map Room And Objects In Detailed 3D

“We’ve seen hacks for the Kinect from the very start, and even some that suggested one like this might be possible: a Kinect being moved around like a camera, recording the depth of everything it sees and building up a full-3D map of the room and every object in it. They call it KinectFusion, and it’s really quite fascinating to watch.”

This video is an example of the next leap in technology because it is actually fusing real life with 3D interaction. Children can finally write on the walls like they have always wanted. I think that this will be the next step in the video game industry because not only can you enjoy 3D gaming, but you can interact with the game like it was in your own home. This 3D environment is also a huge step for the animation industry because they would no longer have to model every bit of real life, making the interactions between characters and their surroundings more believable.

“Among the applications for this suggested by the Microsoft Research team: “extending multi-touch interactions to arbitrary surfaces; advanced features for augmented reality; real-time physics simulations of the dynamic model; novel methods for segmentation and tracking of scanned objects” — and I’m sure you can think of a few yourself. Turning the Kinect into a user-controlled tool instead of a passive user-monitoring tool opens up a huge amount of possibilities, as other hacks have demonstrated as well.”

People are constantly finding new ways of using “old” technology and it’s always interesting to see what the next big thing will be.

Written By: Sean Baptista, Mechanical Engineer

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