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VR Interfaces: Wii


Overview of Wii
The Nintendo Wii - formerly the Nintendo Revolution, was formally announced at an E3 2006 press conference. Nintendo started their E3 conference by using the new Nintendo Wii controller.

The display screen lit up to a Mario game, with Mario running around, and picking up crates to throw at enemies. All pretty standard Nintendo faire, except, to pick up the crate, the A button on the controller was pressed, but to throw it… the controller was tossed in the player's hand like it was being thrown - and the crate followed the same path onscreen.

Wii makes use of a controller with a built-in motion sensor. The key to the whole experience, the Wii wireless sits in the hand and feels much like a TV remote control, bearing not a little similarity to a Wanda VR pointer. The motion sensor inside, allowing a full six degrees of movement - it detects travel along the X, Y, and Z axis, pitch, roll and yaw. You hold it in your hand, and every tiny movement of the controller itself, translates to action on-screen.

Driven by ST's Micro Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) technology, the Wii controller can respond to changes in direction, speed, and acceleration, down to the most delicate movements.

Specifically, the controller uses embedded acceleration sensors to enable players' wrist, arm, and hand movements to interact with the games. Tilt measurements allow users to move characters by simply tipping the unit in the desired direction, while the accurate three-axis acceleration sensing easily transforms the controller into a virtual sword, gearshift, or musical instrument.

The controller has been designed to withstand temperature variations, so it works as well playing in the freezer - why would you ever want to? - as it does in a hot car. Pretty much immune to vibration, the controller is shock resistant up to a weight of 10kg landing on it.

The controller even contains a small speaker assembly, allowing it to play sounds of events happening in proximity to the player-character.

Nintendo is pushing the Wii's motion sensitivity, but, just in case people are not ready for that yet, it ships with a backup nunchuk controller. Called the Wii Classic Controller, it looks and feels like Nintendo's SNES controller of yesteryear with an added analogue sticks.

Backup nunchuk controller for the unintrepid

The Wii does differ from the other major consoles -PS3, Xbox 360- in one major point: it does not have an integrated hard drive. Instead, it relies on 512 MB of flash memory, and slots for additional SD memory cards, along with plenty of USB ports. Whilst flash memory is far, far faster than a hard drive could ever be, and uses less power, the small storage size, and lack of room to store patches if the power dies does seem worrying.

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