What’s in the future?

As the semester is drawing to a close and the feedback from the WiiPaint studies is keeping plenty of brain cells fed and happy, I had the chance today to talk with my advisors about the direction this thesis project is going next semester.

The default path was creating WiiPaint 2, which I had been excited about for half this entire time because I thought I could finally create something that would “fix” everything that was off with WiiPaint 1.  This research approach would be “evolutionary” in the sense that it is incremental and makes small steps each time to improve something.  I feel that this is very one track minded and potentially trapping — there is no guarantee that WiiPaint 2 will be the ultimate project that I am hoping it will be.  There is also the danger of striving for perfection, which would have been an issue with my original thesis idea of creating a 3D game — it will not be as good as professionally-made 3D games that already exist.  WiiPaint is bound to come up with new issues that I will continue to have to fix in the search for the “perfect” collaborative art program.

Here is a screenshot of using bomomo, which was a huge inspiration to what WiiPaint 2 would look like created by multiple users.

bomomo screenshot

Inspired by a recent trip to the MIT Media Lab to “think outside the box,” the “revolutionary” approach to research would be to complete scrap the idea and come up with something new and different.  Confused and torn about starting something new, I looked back to my original thesis vision (independent of WiiPaint) for inspiration.

To explore Wiimote capabilities outside of competitive gaming and to better understand and envision Wiimote capabilities in different applications.

Continuing with WiiPaint would have no doubt explored artistic possibilities using the Wiimotes, but it leaves a lot of other areas to be desired.  It has become an issue of whether I want to try to do one thing really well, or try to do many things.  You could argue that either path is the “safer” path, but I’m more interested in which one will better match my vision and passion for this thesis project, and that is the latter.  Overall I’d feel I can accomplish more by not limiting myself to WiiPaint but expanding into other applications as well.

One idea that came up while brainstorming was the GlovePIE script for Google Earth where Google Earth is controlled by one Wiimote.  In conjunction with research done in human-robot interaction where Wiimotes are used for robotic navigation control and robotic posture control, I could create a GlovePIE script that used gestures to control navigation in Google Earth.  The current script only supports one Wiimote and basically maps some of the functions onto the buttons, but I want to figure out how to navigate using gestures with two Wii remotes.  I’ll start with this idea during Wintersession and see where it goes.

It could mean that WiiPaint 2 is among this new series of applications, but in any case, I really look forward to breaking free of the conception that the Wiimote is a game controller and use it as a tangible user interfaces for many interesting research questions, wherever that may lead this thesis project.  To end, here is a sneak peak of the WiiPaint website layout, inspired by Nintendo ;)

WiiPaint site preview

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