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WiiMote Wireless Switch Interface

Status: Concept

A switch interface is a commonly used piece of assistive technology, which connects various switches to a computer, allowing independent access to a person with disabilities.  Standard USB units like the Don Johnston Switch Interface Pro and StealthSwitch AT cost approximately $100 (USD), while the lesser-known Stealth Switch 2 is around $40 (USD).  Fortunately, switch interfaces aren't extravagantly expensive, but I haven't yet found a cheap, versatile, simple to use, wireless switch interface.  I have, however, found the Nintendo Wii controller.

The WiiMote is a motion sensing video game controller, made for use with the Nintendo Wii console.  They can be purchased for $30-40 (USD) at any video game store or online.  There is a lot of great hardware packed into a small, clean, cheap package here, as they include an accelerometer, infrared sensor, BlueTooth connection, connector for a variety of peripherals, and 12 buttons.  They are quite popular for a variety of applications, and have been hacked into remote controlled cars, finger trackers, interactive white boards, virtual reality displays, and much more.  There are even devoted communities of WiiMote hackers.

Turning a WiiMote into a wireless switch interface would be simple:
  • Switch adapt the buttons by connecting a 3.5 mm mono jack across each button (the easy way, or the complex way)
  • Connect the WiiMote to the PC via BlueTooth and configure the desired keys/macros/mouse movements with software like GlovePie (as explained here)
While there are cleaner solutions, this would produce a cheap, wireless switch interface, which could also be used to play games on the Wii itself.

Side Note: Check the Special Effect Gamebase for info on Wii adaptations for people with disabilities.  (The last item links to more of my Wii work at ATP.)

Copyright © 2012 Gavin Philips. All rights reserved.