At this month's DEFCON hackers' conference, engineering students Josh Marks, Rob Rehrig and Larry Aiello did a demonstration of their project WiiAssist, (PDF here) which allows people with disabilities to use the Nintendo Wiimote as a head-pointer and the Wii Balance Board as a mouse. VultureBeat's Dean Takashi writes:
"[T]he project adapts the infrared sensors in the Wii controller, which detects a Wii game player’s motion and position, so that it can be attached to someone’s head. The sensor is then used to track head movements, which can control a mouse in a computer application."
The University of Delaware students chose the Wiimote in part because it can track up to four infrared sources and it has Bluetooth capabilities, as well as an open-source library for Windows and Linux machines called Wiiuse, which supports "motion sensiong, IR tracking, nunchuck, classic controller, and the Guitar Hero 3 controller."
Long-term goals for WiiAssist include sign language recognition and a design that uses less power and fewer wires.
But then a friend introduced her to the seedy underworld of the Mario brothers and she spent her saved-up birthday and Christmas money to buy a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Her mom didn't like the Nintendo at first, but The Legend of Zelda changed her mind. (When Tera got Zelda II: The Adventure of Link one Christmas, she suspected it was as much for her mother as for her).
Though she graduated from Agnes Scott College in 2002 and recently learned how to find the movie theater restroom by herself, Tera still loves video games. Far from being a brain-rotting waste of time, they've helped her practice spatial skills and discover new passions. Her love of games like Kid Icarus and The Battle of Olympus led to a degree in Classical Languages and Literatures. She thinks games have a place in discussions on disability and other cultural issues, and is excited to work with the like-minded staff at GameCritics.com.