Console modification not just for game piracy

wiimote

It appears as if the field of  science and technology is the next great battleground for the games console war. Following creative uses for the Xbox 360 and PS3, two scientists have developed new ways to use the Wii’s controller.

Hydrologist Willem Luxemburg and physicist Rolf Hut, both from the Dutch university Delft, showed off their work to the American Geophysical Union this week. Wired magazine reports that they both took advantage of the Wiimote sensor which can detect movement to closer than the nearest millimeter.

Hut created a relatively simple wind sensor: nothing more than a pole with the sensor from the Wiimote at its top. Luxemberg created a solution to a more complex problem: measuring evaporation, which normally requires equipment costing more than $500. To make things even more complex, he tried to find a method of doing so on a large body of water such as a lake.

His solution involves putting a LED on a floating device (a toy boat in the demo) and then pointing the Wiimote at it. The movement of the sensor tells you how high the water level is and thus indicates evaporation. The real beauty of the system is that the remote can take data from up to four LEDs, meaning much more accurate results without drastic increases in costs.

The pair believe that with a longer battery life and a way of storing data locally, the controller could be used for a much wider variety of purposes, particularly if you also make use of the in-built accelerometer.

Earlier this year, medical researchers revealed they are using the graphics chip from an Xbox 360 to investigate a heart condition. The parallel processing capability of the chip makes it ideal for simulating the way electrical signals move around damaged cells. Because the sheer number of cells means the number of possible routes is enormous, a standard computer chip which could only simulate and calculate one route at a time would take too long to make the work viable.

And in late 2008, security researchers used 200 PS3s to prove that the encryption system then used by Verizon, which had originally been thought to be so complex that it was unimaginable a machine could ever crack it, had now been made obsolete by increased computing power.

[Picture source: Make]

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