4 Ways to Unleash the Power of Your Wiimote Controller

A big part of the Nintendo Wii's charm is its wireless motion-sensing controller, the Wiimote. But who knew it could do so much more than just serving as a virtual racket or bat? From pointing your Roomba to where it should go, to creating an interactive whiteboard for a fraction of the cost, here are 4 Wiimote hacks guaranteed to make you smile.

1. Hook it up to a Horse

With the technology available for modifying the wiimote now, nothing is impossible these days. Even rigging a springy horse to work as a controller in Need for Speed. Admittedly, it's kind of a niche project, but there are plenty of other crazy (and easy to do) ideas as well. Like #2 on our list:

2. Control Your iTunes

Hesitant to go crazy with your wiimote before a smaller test? Why not use the controller to power your favorite media library? An already existent program, Blue Tunes, allows you to do just that, using the buttons on your wiimote to control the various functions. No programming experience is necessary--just download, adjust the settings to your music library of choice, and you're ready to go.

3. Create an Interactive Whiteboard

Don't want to shell out $1500, for an interactive white board? Why not do it on the cheap while harnessing the full potential of what the Wii controller can do. Johnny Lee's genius whiteboard that could be placed and used anywhere was picked up quickly by major technology blogs like Gizmodo. The ease is the big factor. As long as you've got a projection screen or LCD monitor, a laptop, and a cheap infrared (IR) device, you have a whiteboard that can be used by multiple users at the same time for a fraction of the cost of other interactive whiteboard systems.

Amazingly, the whiteboard is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Johnny's developments. Other projects use concepts of image recognition and computer vision to use the Wiimote to track finger positions and create VR displays that display different views of an image based on the postion of your head in relation to the sensor bar. Interested in seeing what that means? All of these projects are available at his website and youtube channel.

4. Make Sweet, Sweet Music

Creatively stifled by Guitar Hero and Rock Band, but don't want to wait around for Wii Music to come out? Or maybe you just don't want to invest in a real drum kit. Either way, it's now possible to make great music with your controller!

Because of the Wiimote's rectangular shape, the drums are a natural extension of the controller's capabilities. Those looking to replicate a full drum kit can even use Nunchuks to simulate the pedals. The software to do all this can be found here. Personally, I'm looking forward to testing this out once I'm back at school and need a break from the work.

Picture 48.pngOf course, there are plenty of other great ideas out there as well. From turning the controller into a spray can (pictured left), to controlling your Roomba (below)if you've got a little imagination and a little know-how, the sky's the limit. In any case, if you know of any applications we missed or need to check out, be sure to drop them in the comments.

Cahoots Malone
Revisit Your Favorite '90s Screensaver With This Free Game
Cahoots Malone
Cahoots Malone

In the '90s, a significant amount of computing power was devoted to generating endless brick mazes on Windows 95. The screensaver has since become iconic, and now nostalgic Microsoft fans can relive it in a whole new way. As Motherboard reports, the animation has been re-imagined into a video game called Screensaver Subterfuge.

Instead of watching passively as your computer weaves through the maze, you’re leading the journey this time around. You play as a kid hacker who’s been charged with retrieving sensitive data hidden in the screensaver of Windows 95 before devious infomancers can get to it first. The gameplay is pretty simple: Use the arrow keys to navigate the halls and press Q and click the mouse to change their design. Finding a giant smiley face takes you to level two, and finding the briefcase icon ends the game. There are also lots of giant rats in this version of the screensaver.

Screensaver Subterfuge was designed by Cahoots Malone as part of the PROCJAM 2017 generative software showcase. You can download it for free for Windows, macOS, and Linux from his website, or if playing a game sounds like too much work, you can always watch videos of the old screensaver on a loop.

[h/t Motherboard]

Brain Training Could Help Combat Hearing Loss, Study Suggests

Contrary to what you might think, the hearing loss that accompanies getting older isn't entirely about your ears. Studies have found that as people get older, the parts of their brain that process speech slow down, and it becomes especially difficult to isolate one voice in a noisy environment. New research suggests there may be a way to help older people hear better: brain training.

The Verge reports that a new double-blind study published in Current Biology suggests that a video game could help older people improve their hearing ability. Though the study was too small to be conclusive, the results are notable in the wake of several large studies in the past few years that found that the brain-training games on apps like Luminosity don't improve cognitive skills in the real world. Most research on brain training games has found that while you might get better at the game, you probably won't be able to translate that skill to your real life.

In the current study, the researchers recruited 24 older adults, all of whom were long-term hearing-aid users, for eight weeks of video game training. The average age was 70. Musical training has been associated with stronger audio perception, so half of the participants were asked to play a game that asked them to identify subtle changes in tones—like you would hear in a piece of music—in order to piece together a puzzle, and the other half played a placebo game designed to test their memory. In the former, as the levels got more difficult, the background noise got louder. The researchers compare the task to a violinist tuning out the rest of the orchestra in order to listen to just their own instrument.

After eight weeks of playing their respective games around three-and-a-half hours a week, the group that played the placebo memory game didn't perform any better on a speech perception test that asked participants to identify sentences or words amid competing voices. But those who played the tone-changing puzzle game saw significant improvement in their ability to process speech in noise conditions close to what you'd hear in an average restaurant. The tone puzzle group were able to accurately identify 25 percent more words against loud background noise than before their training.

The training was more successful for some participants than others, and since this is only one small study, it's possible that as this kind of research progresses, researchers might find a more effective game design for this purpose. But the study shows that in specific instances, brain training games can benefit users. This kind of game can't eliminate the need for hearing aids, but it can help improve speech recognition in situations where hearing aids often fail (e.g., when there is more than one voice speaking). However, once the participants stopped playing the game for a few months, their gains disappeared, indicating that it would have to be a regular practice.

[h/t The Verge]


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