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I’m potentially gobsmacked.

Who wants a definitive guide to the wiimote ? I do, I do!

Dear O'Reilly,

As a Safari subscriber and yes, rabid fanboy, there is a book that I have been wanting to see, but it doesn't exist (in English) anywhere. A complete, updated guide to the wiimote.

The Wiimote whiteboard, by Johnny Chung Lee has gone through three generations now, and has been well documented in your Coding for Fun book, I promote the smoothboard 1.6 version of this tool to schools in Spain, and have saved probably close to 50000 euros out of Spanish taxpayers pockets with it. That is only a start, but it should start snowballing, hopefully.

However... the wiimote, an ever popular interface for DIY HID, is a tool that can go much further, and the Japanese, who came up with the device and who use it for useful things like the popular
"tactile holographic elephants" have a book now published only in Japanese by Dr. Akihiko Shirai. Some of Dr. Shirai's recent projects include: pong scritter

Having seen the opening chapter via google translator, there was a tasty bit that I haven't seen in the or anywhere: showing how to connect to the flawed widdcomm bluetooth stack (demands security code for wiimote) ... and connect it in two keystrokes. I spent 3 days trying to do that, and eventually hacked my bt.inf file to make it pretend my adaptor was Microsoft BT Stack compatible.

There is better (and totally new) information in his 400 page book than the stuff I spend time trudging through wiimoteproject to find. A definite parallel to how I feel about looking for information on the internet vs. a check through safari... this book seems very O'Reilly to me. It would expand on, rather than compete with, Coding for fun and Programming Interactivity, and stretches a hand out to interest more people in Processing, where you have a lot of information.

A definite guide to the wiimote (it isn't a missing manual) might not be on your list of priorities but:

As the wiimote/balance board is supported by ubuntu, mac, and windows, it is a cheap and useful tool/sensor/controller.
It is supported by open source community.
Interactive works for digital artists can take place.
The bluetooth connectivity is good for supporting "makers."
It supports various languages giving chapters with coding examples for c++, c#, actionscript 3 and processing, allowing you to connect with anything from lego robots to industrial ones. (MIT has a program encouraging female engineers through robots...)

Can connect through mobile phones (bt) and Android has already been connected. A wiimote could track ir pen motion to do a virtual graffitti collaboration internationally using much less bandwidth than webcam based computer vision because the wiimote gives all the data pre-chewed for you. How cool is that?

This is a book that will help people make stuff. Cheap and cool stuff. A book that should be on the shelf of every medialab, school tech club, and above and beyond everything else, in my Safaribooksonline so that I can search it whenever I want and people all around the world can read google translated versions of it.

Problem? it is in Japanese.

It will require editing but the ideas inside are worth doing it for. The upside is it can be reformated for O'Reilly at the same time.

If Madonna's stellar acting from Ishtar could be translated from English to Japanese... well... this is more useful and important. I know that your submitting policies require first language English, (...even though it is no longer as widespread and as important as English as a second language and we natives should begin to learn it...) But the information seems worthy of getting a good translator or collaborator on the job.

There are many off the wall ideas: using an infra-red wireless headset to control the wii with sound, testing bad breath... crazy things that could give real uses to prototypers and digital artist today.

Can you think of the right person to do it? Would you be interested if a translator could be found? Or is there a specific publisher that you work with that might be interested?

Matt Ledding
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this idea
  • Brian Jepson (Editor, Maker Media, Inc.) May 28, 2010 21:17
    Hi Matt,

    While I'm not sure there'd be a large market for a book like this, I am intrigued. I had a look at the book on (if you visit this in the Google Chrome browser, it should offer to translate it for you), and it looks like it's mostly concerned with computer-based interactions. I didn't see any mention of Arduino or other microcontrollers.

    I'm cautiously intrigued, but I don't think a translation of this book would necessarily be the optimal choice. It's possible I could be convinced otherwise, but I can't help but wonder about how well a Wiimote book done in the style of Getting Started with Arduino might do.
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  • I’m going to remember the term "cautiously intrigued" next time I am about to get roped into a project.
    Brian, thanks for answering so quickly... I am impressed, as always, at your customer service w/ O'Reilly.

    Yeah, I don't know how large the market is, and it isn't an excel 2010 or google apps hacks, or even a book on QR codes, but I am sure that the wiimote could be a great disruptive tech tool in a lot of fields, apart from providing teachers with a near zero-learning curve interactive whiteboard. That is why I think it is an important book: it could provide an impetus to a lot of beginning makers, and while it may focus on the software more, the wiimote can be a gentle introduction to making hardware... I have seen a nearly retired nun (do nuns retire?) who had never touched a soldering iron make an IR Pen, for example. It was cool.

    That said: it would be great if there was more info on physically connecting the arduino to the wiimote: it is rumoured to be able to get the wiimote tracking up to 200 hz by skipping BT, but that may be a wiimote urban legend. I know that someone in Japan had come up with some sort of arduino code and connected it to read the wiimote: (via Johnny Chung Lee's blog.)

    Aside from the amazon page, here is another writeup on it in English (showing their interest in bringing out the book, so I imagine they wouldn't mind me putting it up here.) There are some emails inside if you'd like to ask any questions... and let me know if you find out anything good ; ) I am going to email this thread to them in any case.

    Maybe instead of a straight translation something like arduino might be good, but this here is one of them there 400 paged book while arduino is under 150...


    WiiRemote Programming
    (Ohmsha, Japan)

    This book is the world's first programming text book dedicated entirely to practical use of the WiiRemote (wiimote, Nintendo's Wii controller) via PC. The book was launched (in Japanese) on July 2009.
    Currently, we are looking for a publishing firm to bring this information to English-speaking countries. We invite you to contact us.

    Akihiko SHIRAI ( & Takayuki KOSAKA (

    Abstract: A programming guide book to interactive technique using the WiiRemote.

    Programming with the "WiiRemote", the distinctive controller of the "Wii" with the computer is now gaining attention. Previously, it was not feasible for an individual to create or obtain devices with high performance acceleration sensor and infrared sensor, let alone add a BT connection. With the appearance of the WiiRemote, all this changed, and many people are increasingly interested in this now.

    This book explains the programming to deal with WiiRemote from PC for programming beginners who are interested in the practical use of WiiRemote. As a game programming manual, aside from the hardware, it explains source code step by step and makes self-study of interaction technique possible with concrete sample development.

    Programming language supports C/C++, C#.NET, ActionScript 3 and Processing.

    Recommended users

    -Students who are studying engineering or art
    -Media artists
    -Next generation game planners or future programmers
    -Industrial application developers
    -Hobby programmers

    Main contents

    1. Why WiiRemote?
    2. Begin using WiiRemote with your computer.
    3. Our first experiment
    4. WiiRemote programming via C++ and C#
    5. Let's use WiiFlash (compiled by ActionScript)
    6. Let's use WiiFlash... more efficiently (compiled by Processing)
    7. Interaction Fundamental Technique via WiiYourSelf! (latest gen managed wii library) and C++
    8. Practical development process of interaction technique
    9. More Ideas and exercises
    10.WiiRemote in the future...

    The main author:

    Akihiko SHIRAI, PhD.
    Discovered photography, computer graphics, arts and entertainment techniques at Department of Photography, Tokyo Polytechnic University. After obtaining a master degree, started working at an electrical appliance manufacturer. Also worked making CG middleware for a game made by English designers.

    Returned to Department of Computational Intelligence and System Science Interdisciplinary, Graduate School of Science and Engineering, Tokyo Institute of Technology and obtained Ph.D in engineering for development of an entertainment system with tactual sensing floor surface for children. After studying next generation broadcasting technique, went to France to work with VR technique in a theme park development plan.

    After studying abroad for three years, currently working on development of exhibition and producing emerging visual exhibitions which tell the future of information science technology at the National Science Museum Miraikan in Tokyo.

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  • Brian Jepson (Editor, Maker Media, Inc.) May 28, 2010 23:46
    Thanks, Matt! It's been a long time since a book could provide an impetus to a technology's adoption. It used to be the case (probably more than 10 years ago, though), that publishing a book on a topic could help give it the push it needs to get widely adopted. But sadly, times have changed, and in order for a print book to be financially feasible, there really does need to be a critical mass of adoption.

    That's why we have a lot of other avenues for publishing information on interesting topics:

    And there's more of course, but it's engagement through these kinds of channels that can really build interest in and awareness of various topics. It's still true that the availability of a textbook can make it easier for instructors to teach about a topic, but for a tech book in this market to be economically viable, there really needs to be a lot of people using it.

    That said, if you've got the interest and energy in pursuing a book on this topic, please let me know. I'd encourage you to reach out to the authors of that book and put your heads together.

    If you end up with a great proposal--either something based on their existing book, or something more oriented toward the electronics/Arduino hacker, please get in touch with me, and we'll see where it takes us!
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  • I’m thankful
    Hi Matt,

    Thanks to motivate me to share my WiiRemote programming into the world.

    Here is a portal of this book.
    A webversion of chapter 1, of course it include Arduino projects yet.
    this book also includes some academic issues like below:
    *WiiMedia: motion analysis methods and applications using a consumer video game controller

    Presentation at SIGGRAPH ASIA 2009
    Photo album of other activities

    I've discussed with the Japanese original publisher, they looks positive if I publish a new book that optimized into current world physical computing activities.

    Thanks again to motivate me.
    best regards,

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  • I’m a...PIG...IN...MUD!!!
    @Brian - thanks for your frankness, and quick replies. If Google had O'Reilly's customer service, not only would they already rule the world, but nobody would mind...

    I understand your point that a critical mass is important when deciding where to invest your energy, and quite like the suggestion that this could be good for the already developed arduino ecosystem. Much of the information that block beginners (connection issues) could be covered as well and some of the newer stuff like wiiyourself (a rose by any other name?) which opens up the speakers on the wiimote.

    @Dr. Shirai, (Akihiko...) am thrilled you have responded. I look forward to seeing your new book... Gambate! If you don't have anyone in mind, I am cautiously intrigued about giving a hand with the English, but think that perhaps a more experienced arduino person with better processing and c skills could do a better job. You have my email in any case.

    Suggestions anyone?
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  • Brian Jepson (Editor, Maker Media, Inc.) June 13, 2010 16:02
    @Matt and @Dr. Shirai, thanks. If you do put a book proposal together, please let me know!
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