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Ed Herrmann

Wii Goes Enterprise

Posted by Ed Herrmann in ed.herrmann on Feb 26, 2007 8:41:53 AM

Unless you have been living under a rock since last December, you have undoubtedly heard about Nintendo's latest generation game console, Wii.  Wii has taken the world by storm with it's innovation and simplicity.

Perhaps the most intriguing feature of the system is the Wii remote control, also known as the Wiimote.  The Wiimote looks like a TV remote controller with a directional pad on the front and a trigger on the back.  The Wiimote uses a combination of Bluetooth, infrared, and accelerometer technology to provide the player with a unique experience of game play using actual body movement to simulate realistic action.  I have played the Wii and it is extremely fun.  Using real, natural movement makes the playing experience really simple and very interactive.  If you have never seen the Wii in action, check out this two minute trailer:

I was first introduced to the Wii by a coworker and friend, Mark Szczerbaniewicz.  One Friday, he brought the Wii into work.  After the work day was finished, we hooked it up to a projector and Mark, Dan McWeeney, Phil Young, and myself were swept away into Wii Sports bliss for a couple of hours.  We were instantly hooked.  It was a game playing experience like we had never had before.

Being the enterprise geeks that we are, it wasn't too long before we asked ourselves if this same kind of technology would ever be applicable in the business world.  After some research and hacking by Mark, he actually found all the necessary components to get the Wiimote to simulate a PC mouse.  Yep, that's right, there are the tools available to cheaply turn your Wii remote into an interactive interface for controlling the PC.

Using our newfound shiny object, we just had to experiment and introduce the Wii to the enterprise.  We decided to integrate the Wii remote with an existing Ruby on Rails application connecting to an SAP BW backend.  More information on the Rails application developed by Dan can be found here.  The application is a resource planner that enables a manager to easily view and plan his upcoming projects, requirements, and available resources with an easy to use drag and drop interface, while utilizing SAP BW planning cubes for it's model.

Check out the video below for a high level overview and quick demonstration of what we did; however if you want to try this experiment on your own, hop over to Mark's site, WiiProjects.org, where he was nice enough to provide a complete, step-by-step tutorial.

Stuff

  1. SAP 6.40 NetWeaver 2004 w/ BW 3.5
  2. Ruby on Rails using Script.aculo.us
  3. Wiimote
  4. Bluetooth dongle
  5. Bluetooth drivers
  6. Homemade Infrared sensor bar
  7. Carl Kenner's GlovePIE emulation software (Glove Programmable Input Emulator)

Demo

Wii Goes Enterprise Video Demo

I can hear you now questioning if there will ever be any real world business applications that this might actually be useful for.  Well, I'm not sure we are on the brink of seeing your CEO hopping to and fro around the office while wavin' his Wii "in the air like he just don't care", but as you can see from this demo above, it may not be totally out of the question.  I  would love to see a scenario with a management team sitting in a conference room, Wiimotes in hand, planning their important projects for the year.  The managers could collaborate together, each having his own Wiimote to interactively analyze different scenarios and data results.

So maybe this is a little off the wall and the enterprise is not ready to hire the Wii just yet, but we had fun with it nonetheless.  We are interested in hearing other opinions and ideas about where something like this or something similar may or may not be useful.

Manager disclaimer: we did this little side project 100% after work hours. =)

-ewH

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