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2008-07-21

Adding the WiiMot+ to Head Tracking

Few people are as ecstatic about the announcement for Wii MotionPlus as I am.

If you've never heard of Johnny Lee and his headtracking video, or you need to refresh your memory, here's the video.

As-is, Johnny Lee's headtracking program can allow the player to lean, crouch, and jump without using any buttons or joysticks. In his setup, you still cannot look (up/down) or turn. (left/right) Even if you bind the handheld Wiimote to a "look margin" similar to the one used in Metroid Prime 3, there isn't enough practical function in it to convince developers to integrate headtracking into their games. With just leaning, crouching, and jumping, it's just not worth requiring players to buy additional hardware, even if it's just another Wiimote and a pair of infrared LED glasses.

However, an important addition to this technology was discovered over a month ago which resolves this problem, a 6DOF headtracker. It's official thread on WiimoteProject.com is here. And a video of it in action is here. (I realize that the person is sitting down in the video but he just as easily could of been standing up in front of a TV.)

With this headtracker, not only can you do everything Johnny Lee's original program could do, but you can also look and turn. In effect, the headtracker becomes its own pointer, and the "look margin" from Metroid Prime 3 that was previously bound to the handheld Wiimote can be reassigned to the headtracker. Because the handheld Wiimote is no longer bound to a "look margin", it is free to be pointed anywhere on screen. Apparently however, this still doesn't offer enough immersion to warrant much attention.

And then, the Wii MotionPlus was announced.

Combine the hands-free pointer of the 6DOF headtracker with the one-to-one motion tracking of the Wii MotionPlus, and you get an unbound Wiimote that you can point not just anywhere on-screen, but anywhere off-screen as well. Imagine the level of immersion you could get out of that system...

This is why I find it sad that the discovery of 6DOF headtracking over a month ago has attracted little to no attention . This is why we should be excited about the Wii MotionPlus, not just the promise of realistic swordfighting.

One more thing. If we only need bindings for moving and strafing now, we could technically bind those functions to a Wiimote's D-pad. If we do that, then we don't need the nunchuck anymore, and can finally start using two Wiimotes, one in each hand. (which I call "Twomote" Style)

Pique your interest any?

BTW:
If you're worried about how expensive the Wiimote stand seen in Johnny Lee's video could be if it were sold in stores, I've designed and successfully tested a Wiimote stand made entirely out of posterboard that doesn't bend under the weight of the Wiimote.
When completed, it looks like a sawed-off tin can. (drawing not to scale)

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