Electronic Design

With Wii Remote, Gaming Is Child's Play

When Brian Crecente got the Nintendo Wii and PlayStation 3 last month, the first thing he did (after taking both of the next-generation gaming consoles for a ride, of course) was put the controllers in his toddler's hands.

In his YouTube footage of his son's first go with the Wii, gaming fanatic Web site Kotaku editor Crecente has to repeat his question a few times before the tyke responds. But in the end, the young Crecente declares that he prefers the Nintendo Wii Remote controller to that of the PlayStation 3.

This is precisely the kind of experience Nintendo was hoping for. The Wii was designed to be so simple, it could be enjoyed by gamers and non-gamers of all ages.

A stark contrast to the traditional two-handed wired controller, the motion-controlled Wii Remote (or Wiimote) can be held in one hand. Sans wires, the Wii Remote communicates with the gaming console via Bluetooth, and it can be used up to 10 meters away.

Central to the Wii Remote's design are acceleration sensors by Analog Devices (ADI) and STMicroelectronics. Analog Devices and Nintendo have collaborated in the past on software for previous gaming systems. ADI's acceleration sensors were used in games like Kirby's Tilt'N Tumble for the Game Boy Color gaming console.

For the Wii Remote, Analog Devices' ADXL330 senses the gamer's motions in three dimensions of freedom: forward-backward, left-right, and up-down. When the Wii Remote is picked up and manipulated, it provides a quick element of interaction, sensing motion, depth, and positioning dictated by the acceleration of the controller itself.

"We selected the ADXL330 because its accuracy, small size, and extremely low power consumption were critical to the Wii Console's design objectives," said Genyo Takeda, senior Nintendo managing director for the Integrated Research & Development Division.

The Wii Remote also includes STMicroelectronics' three-axis acceleration sensors. The sensors, which are based on the company's microelectromechanical-systems (MEMS) technology, measure tilt to enable users to move characters, while three-axis sensing transforms the controller into a virtual sword, gearshift, or musical instrument.

See Associated Figure

For more about the Wii, see Brian Crecente's video footage at ED Online 14143; "Grandparents: The Future Of Gaming?" at ED Online 14144; and "Console Designer Bridges Generation Gap With The Wii" at ED Online 14145.

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