Thursday, September 18, 2008

What makes the Nintendo Wii rock?

NINTENDO WII CONSOLEI'm sure there must be tons of people out there who own a Nintendo Wii. I myself own one and have thoroughly enjoyed it over the past few months. Nintendo has been extremely successful in marketing this gaming console to a very niche market which the playstations and the xboxes could not reach out to. So the credit definitely goes to the product planning department at Nintendo. But what about the technology behind this awesome gadget which makes it the most popular gaming console in recent times?

The technology behind the success of the Nintendo Wii definitely lies in its controller. It is simple, easy to hold and maneuver - and most of all, doesn't have those insane number of buttons to push just to kick your opponent's face. Yes it is graphically inferior to the PS3 and the Xbox but that's exactly what it is supposed to be - simple and fun!

Wii Remote
Like I mentioned above, this is definitely the piece which makes the Nintendo Wii so unique. The Wii Remote essentially comprises of a 3D MEMS sensor which is used to communicate with the console to provide information regarding the position and acceleration of the Wii Remote. A lot of effort was put in to move away from traditional 2D MEMS sensors to a 3D MEMS sensor and make it cheap and lightweight. The innovation started right at the wafer level according to the product manager at Analog Electronics.

Yes, in case you didn't know the Wii Remote communicated with the console using bluetooth. Information such as the position, acceleration and what buttons are being pressed is transmitted via bluetooth to the Nintendo Wii's controller. Considering the fact that the distance between the user and the console is typically less than a couple of meters, bluetooth is the best cost effective option for this communication between the Wii Remote and the Wii Console.

Non Wii users might not be familiar with this word. The nunchuck is basically a second controller and compliments the Wii Remote. It has to be plugged in to the Wii Remote and does not work as a standalone. It has its own accelerometer and features and analog joystick and two buttons. What is its pupose? Well when you're playing boxing you need two hands right? So you hold the Wii Remote in one hand and the Nunchuck in the other. Simply brilliant!

Infrared Bar
Ah yes, this is the bar that you position on top or bottom of your TV. Contrary to popular belief, this bar does not have any kind of sensors and all it does is emit infrared waves. The infrared receivers on the Wii Remote receive this and transmit the position of the Wii Remote relative to the TV screen back to the console. Basically the distance and angle is calculated and triangulated which is conveyed back to the console. As simple as that.

Last but not least, we look at the WiFi system enabled on the Wii Console. Well this was added mainly for the purpose of multi player compatibility but you could also play some flash games on certain webservers using the WiFi in the Nintendo Wii. Lately there have also been a wave of Nintendo Wii WiFi routers been launched in the market.

There you go, that's what makes a Nintendo Wii rock! Time for my bowling game - in my living room... tata!

[Via TechnologyReview]


Tame Your Technology said...

I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of my Wii.

I was chatting to my retired Mom the other day about it and it turns out even she has heard of the Wii. Doctors are apparently using them to help patients get some gentle exercise in some hospitals and old peoples homes :-)

Free Wii said...

I love my Wii, you must get Mario Kart with it! It's one of my favourite games out there, I also love Super Mario Galaxy!

There has been talks of a Wii 2 being in development, can't wait to see what they do with that! :)

Raj said...

@Free Wii: I think the Wii 2 is something that everyone can look forward to. It's amazing what they did with the Wii 1, so I expect to see some cool new features on Wii 2 as well.