There has been a lot of comment recently about the runaway success of Nintendo Wii, and it sure brings the human interface to machines up a new level in terms of the mass market. The potential is there to do a lot with Wii, and a look at the Wii site, also makes you realise that not only can Wii be linked to the Internet, but the inevitability of some smart geeks figuring out how to use Wii and the Internet to take things to the next level is but a matter of time. Actually take a look around with me and you can see it’s well under way, indeed it has surprised me to see how far and how fast things are moving.
The first stage for many committed Wii users is to download the Opera Browser and surfing from their Wii console graduating towards Wii based Social Networking. This is only scratching the surface of what this kind of interaction is already bringing us. Take a deeper look at the Wiitalk site and you will find that you can construct your own avatar in a crude way.
However that’s not nearly good enough, there are talented people out there who have ‘adapted’ Wii controllers to work in Second Life, just take a look at this video. The Linden Labs people have open sourced the necessary code that allows people to experiment with taking virtual world interfaces to a new level using simple, and that also means everyday cheap, Wii controllers. There is now a full Open Source project under way at Sourceforge so expect this to rapidly become mainstream over the coming year.
I admit to having been uncommitted in my support for Second Life when blogging on the topic a year or so back, but this seriously changes my mind about what might occur. It will as ever obey the ‘golden rule’ for high speed progress of combining Web 2.0, Open Source and users driving their own experiences.
However that’s not all that a Wii based revolution could change; try thinking through your own ideas, from my side as a starting point what about Telepresence? Surprisingly I can find no reference to anyone trying to add the abilities of a Wii to allow a group of executives in a Telepresence session the benefit of entering into a 3D environment to see and handle something of interest. I have little doubt it will come and suspect currently its not happening as the Telepresence interfaces are not open to allow experimentation.
We are talking about Rich Internet Applications as the way to enrich our experiences with the Web, but I think we may be being too limited in our thinking, we are assuming the interface is through a browser as an extension of the World that has created the Web as we know it. I am no longer as sure, and as a final discussion point throw in Apple and the iPhone. It’s a fascinating combination of movement based, or Wii like, interaction in an entirely Apple presentation format, take a look at Piers Fawkes post ‘Has Apple helped create the Real Web 2.0?’. Given the numbers who are taking up the iPhone, plus the numbers of Wii users, and the we may well find that our view of ‘rich’ user interaction being based on the Browser is dangerously narrow.