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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.

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Tynker
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Barbie Is Now Giving Coding Lessons
Tynker
Tynker

Mattel wants to help 10 million kids learn to code by 2020, and the toy giant is enlisting one of its most career-focused assets: Barbie. According to Engadget, Mattel is working with the coding education company Tynker to make seven Barbie-themed computer programming lessons.

Barbie has been a pilot, an architect, the president, and a computer engineer, so there may be no better character to teach kids the joys of coding. The lessons, arriving in summer 2018, will be designed for youngsters in kindergarten and up, and will teach Barbie-lovers more than just how to make apps. They’ll use Barbie’s many careers—which also included veterinarian, robotics engineer, and astronaut—as a way to guide kids through programming concepts.

An illustration depicts Barbie and her friends surrounded by cats and dogs and reads 'Barbie: Pet Vet.'

A screenshot of a Barbie coding lesson features a vet's office full of pets.

There are plenty of new initiatives that aim to teach kids how to code, from a Fisher-Price caterpillar toy to online games featuring Rey from Star Wars. This is the third partnership between Mattel and Tynker, who have already produced programming lessons using Hot Wheels and Monster High.

Kindergarten may seem a little soon to set kids on a career path as a computer programmer, but coding has been called “the most important job skill of the future,” and you don’t need to work for Google or Facebook to make learning it worthwhile. Coding can give you a leg up in applying for jobs in healthcare, finance, and other careers outside of Silicon Valley. More importantly for kids, coding games are fun. Who wouldn’t want to play Robotics Engineer Barbie?

[h/t Engadget]

All images by Tynker

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"American Mall," Bloomberg
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Unwinnable Video Game Challenges You to Keep a Shopping Mall in Business
"American Mall," Bloomberg
"American Mall," Bloomberg

Shopping malls, once the cultural hub of every suburb in America, have become a punchline in the e-commerce era. There are plenty of malls around today, but they tend to be money pits, considering the hundreds of "dead malls" haunting the landscape. Just how hard is it to keep a mall afloat in the current economy? American Mall, a new video game from Bloomberg, attempts to give an answer.

After choosing which tycoon character you want as your stand-in, you're thrown into a mall—rendered in 1980s-style graphics—already struggling to stay in business. The building is filled with rats and garbage you have to clean up if you want to keep shoppers happy. Every few seconds you're contacted by another store owner begging you to lower their rent, and you must either take the loss or risk them packing up for good. When stores are vacated, it's your job to fill them, but it turns out there aren't too many businesses interested in setting up shop in a dying mall.

You can try gimmicks like food trucks and indoor playgrounds to keep customers interested, but in the end your mall will bleed too much money to support itself. You can try playing the bleak game for yourself here—maybe it will put some of the retail casualties of the last decade into perspective.

[h/t Co.Design]

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