Making Some Wii Modifications

Friday, April 4th, 2008

Johnny Chung Lee has been making Wii modifications for a while now, and they’ve garnered enough attention that BusinessWeek has decided to interview him:

What attracted you to the Wii originally?

A few years ago, I was playing with accelerometers [gyroscopic devices that sense motion]. These are very interesting interaction devices that researchers have been looking at for a couple of decades and that could always do neat things. Seeing one in a game device was a little bit overdue. A few years ago, when I was doing research with Microsoft, I was one of several people trying to get the Xbox group to include an accelerometer in the controller, but they decided not to for cost reasons.

So when the Wii remote came out and it became public that there was a motion sensor in it, I was very excited about it. And then the development community started reverse engineering it and discovered it had all these other capabilities, like an infrared camera, an expansion port, and pressure-sensitive buttons — and it hooked up to a computer relatively easily. All of those factors, plus the low cost, the high availability, the high capability, and its ease of use, made it very attractive to play with.

I had seen most of his projects, but I’d missed this one:

Another thing I didn’t realize was that Lee had been recruited to Carnegie-Mellon University by “well-known lecturer and computer scientist” Randy Pausch, who became something of a Net sensation — without my noticing it, I must confess — via his “last lecture” at CMU:

Pausch’s gives his “last lecture” knowing he has terminal cancer, and he makes a few points:

  • “Never give up.”
  • “Apologize when you screw up.”
  • “Focus on other people, not yourself.”
  • “Don’t bail. The best gold is at the bottom of barrels of crap.”
  • “Show gratitude.”
  • “Work hard. I got tenure a year early. Junior faculty members used to say to me: ‘Wow, what’s your secret?’ I said: ‘It’s pretty simple. Call me any Friday night in my office at 10 o’clock, and I’ll tell you.’”
  • “Be prepared. Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.”
  • “Find the best in everybody. You might have to wait a long time, sometimes years, but people will show you their good side. Just keep waiting. No matter how long it takes. No one is all evil. Everyone has a good side. Just keep waiting. It will come out.”
  • “Get a feedback loop and listen to it…it can be one great man who tells you what you need to hear. The hard part is to listen to it. Anybody can get chewed out. It’s the real person who says: ‘Oh my God, you were right.’ When people give you feedback, cherish it and use it.”

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