Who needs the Wiimote?

...when there's laptops. But, you say, you can't wave laptops around to control your videogame! Actually you can. Many laptops manufactured now come with motion sensors to suddenly freeze the hard disk when it gets bumped around. These sensors can be read by software, which you can use to control software such as computer games running on the laptop. Sorry, Macs only.

Motion sensing laptops are nothing new. Apple's patented Sudden Motion Sensor technology has been inside PowerBooks since 2005, and is now standard in all of their new laptops. IBM had this technology even earlier, called Active Protection System, and was in several brands of ThinkPads. How this technology is designed to work, is if the sensors detect excessive movement, or lack of gravity (which means the unit is falling), then the firmware automatically locks up the write heads of the hard disk to prevent data loss. When the sensors detects safety, the drive continues to function normally.

But it didn't take developers too long to find out that the data obtained from the internal sensors wasn't just confined to the firmware/kernel of Mac laptops. They soon began writing software taking advantage of this, and so you can, for example, hack a laptop to switch desktops when whacked from the sides, as demonstrated in this video. But it didn't stop there. You can now download a program called AMS2HID, which allows you to use the laptop's sensors as an input device in any application. This would allows you to achieve similar feats to the ones made by Nintendo.

For some reason, this idea never really caught on in PC laptops. Perhaps it's the fact that it's not at all standard in any brand of laptops other than Apple. I only know of 3 laptop manufacturers that include a motion sensing device: IBM, Acer, and of course Apple. So PC laptop users miss out on all the fun.

But there's a lot of apps that take advantage of this on Mac... just for the record:

  • MacSaber, which allows you to use your laptop as a lightsaber, making all the usual noises when swung around.
  • SmackBook, a hack that allows you to switch desktops by whacking the laptop, as shown in the video previously.
  • StableWindow, stupid, yet interesting window that rotates as you rotate the laptop to keep it always facing in the correct direction.
  • AMS2HID, the program that allows you to use the motion sensors inside your computer as input devices for an application.

I've spent the last 2 afternoons making my laptop into something more interesting than what I originally intended it for, and I no longer have an urge to buy a Wii. :twisted: My favorites are the MacSaber, which is sooo much better than those toy LightSabers you can buy at Wal-Mart. The more practical software is the SmackBook, as you don't have to dedicate crazy key combinations just to quickly switch virtual desktops. I wonder what my friends will say when they see me hitting my laptop when I'm gaming.

It's all very interesting, and probably the last thing on your mind when you bought that Mac laptop was if it could be used as a Wiimote or Light Saber. Well, now Apple had better put a strong wrist strap on these laptops so they don't go flying around the room like those Wii remotes...

10 Years
Discussion Span
Last Post by sosmither

You need a wiimote to play games without damaging more expenisive hardware. I can *vaguely* imagine playing games by moving my PowerBook around but why would I do that? Cars have had motion sensors in them for airbag usage for years. Why can't I just wave my car around as an input device?

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