You’ve slain dragons and toured international golf circuits with it, but soon the Wiimote may find its place in the hands of future power-plant operators, pest control specialists and even surgeons. David E. Stone, MIT research fellow, is sitting on a plan which will place the successful control medium in a virtual online environment.
Hailing the motion sensitive controller as “one of the most significant breakthroughs in the history of computer science,” Stone aims to harness its functionality and flexibility in Second Life, to provide training simulations for a range of occupations. It’s the next leap forward for the Web-based Training movement, who have plenty to gain from methods which actually engage users. Stone has already won over a manufacturer of medical devices, a company interested in training workers for its power plants, and the pest control company Orkin.
Virtual objects and tools effortlessly created in Second Life (such as spanners and manual controls) will be manipulated via the Wiimote. With sufficient tweaking of the software interface, Stone soon hopes to represent even the smallest of movements. The pinnacle of the concept will be reached when surgeons are able to use this to practice for cancer surgery.
But why the Wiimote? Aside from being the cost effective, off-the shelf option, Eric Klopfer of MIT sings praises of the “human-centric device.” He contrasts it to the gyroscopic mouse:
[The mouse] maps well onto the computer’s interface, but not to the person’s. The Wiimote fits the user. […] People know intuitively what to do with it when they pick it up because we use it like devices we are familiar with – bats, rackets, wands, etc.
Given that the concept will (at this stage) only be applied at early levels of training, it promises massive real-world benefits. If potential surgeons can get disastrous medical blunders out of their system in a consequence-free, yet immersive environment, they could approach their real-life training with a steady hand.
Get the full story at Wired.