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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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28 Comments

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  1. Oliver Nuernberg
    Hi Edward, I reaaallly like this idea, and even if it is just to show that this can be done.

    From watching the video, my understanding is that several people could manipulate the data at the same time using multiple controllers. Is this correct? So for planning exercises, this would be really interesting. Also, there might be areas, wehere using a mouse is simply impractical (i.e. manufacturing environments where you just don’t have space to put a mousepad or a keyboard) and this device might be a good solution. 

    Anyway…I would love to see more of this.

    Oliver

    PS: One other scenario, an HR application: During MBO the employee and the manager each get a WII remote and do a box fight for the bonus amount. 

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    1. Ed Herrmann Post author
      LOL! That’s hilarious.  I would love to see raises and bonuses determined by Wii boxing matches. After all, it would probably be more accurate than most existing incentive programs.

      Regarding the use of multiple remotes at the same time, we got it working with 2 remotes no problem using IE.  However, using Firefox we could only see the second cursor, but not get it to pick up right or left clicks.  Since the first remote is used as the mouse, our guess is that there are certain Windows API calls used to simulate a “second mouse.”  So yes, we got it working pretty well in IE, but it probably needs some more tweaking to get it working for other apps.

      Thanks for the comments, Oliver.
      -ewH

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  2. Thomas Jung
    Very cool.  You even rigged up your own sensor bar.  I guess you didn’t want to have to stop playing WiiSports at home. 🙂

    You guys have probably read this, but you can control the wiimote without the sensor bar with a few candles:
    http://ces.engadget.com/2006/11/27/back-in-our-day-we-played-the-wii-by-candlelight/

    I can see it now: corporate board rooms filled with candles and executives in suites shaking their hips with the wiimote like on the Nintendo commercials.  Not a pretty sight. 🙂

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    1. Ed Herrmann Post author
      Ahh yes, romantic candlelight leadership meetings…I think I would actually pay to see it.  Although, I would definitely love to work for a company where the upper management was willing to do something like that.  =)

      -ewH

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  3. Frank Brackmann
    Hi Edward,
    i was thinking about launching Web Dynpro with a Nunchuk and the Remote some month ago.See this thread:
    ABAP WebDynpro-Trial System in a LAN(not with localhost)
    My idea was to do it with the Opera for Devices Browser (Opera for WII).
    http://www.opera.com/products/devices
    Opera for WII is working fine,but i didnt found a NetWeaverr system in the WWW and didn’t get a connection to my local Trial system ;-(
    Great Work and Blog!!!!
    Frank
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  4. Eddy De Clercq
    SAP will finally supports Opera (see also Phantom of the Opera) when one sees this. Even S(D)N doesn’t work 100% under Opera. And I’m not talking about cosmetic things but real functionality. Wiki is the perfect example of this. No editing under Opera is possible.

    Having said this, I find your initiative really great.

    Eddy

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  5. Marilyn Pratt
    is your entertain(prise) play approach.
    Of course we all know that managers never want to have fun (not).
    My only disappointment?  Not seeing Ed do the Wii dance.
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    1. Ed Herrmann Post author
      Yeah, the portion of me doing the Wii dance definitely got cut out of the final version. Believe me when I say, consider yourself lucky. =)

      -ewH

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  6. Gina Fischer
    Ed,

    Great stuff!  I am curious how you might stress test such – oh, I have it, you and Dan are the only resources for many projects – the managers both have the remotes and compete…

    Gi

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    1. Ed Herrmann Post author
      Gi,

      Actually, the project managers all draw straws and whoever is left with the short one, gets stuck with us…poor soul. =)

      -ewH

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  7. Michael Eacrett
    Great stuff…

    Wonder how long before you work out the drill down or across based on the up-down or left-right movement. You’re going all Minority Report on us! LOL 😀

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    1. Ed Herrmann Post author
      Michael,

      It’s funny that you mention that, because we did have other feedback functions working, such as causing the rumble to activate when hitting the edge of the screen.  🙂

      -ewH

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  8. Peter Inotai
    Hi guys,

    You’re really great! After SAPLink this is also a lot of fun. Just curious what will be the next?
    Integrate the Matrix with Netweaver? : )
    Best regards,
    Peter

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  9. Mark Yolton
    You guys are causing quite a buzz with this innovation.  Lots of chatter outside our “normal” channels, you’d be filled with pride if you saw the emails flying around inside SAP (the “To:” list has names you’d know well), and I had a long conversation with analyst/blogger James Governor (in town for the Adobe Engage event) and your project came up. 

    Nice example of innovation. Thanks for sharing with the SDN community.

    Mark Yolton

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    1. Ed Herrmann Post author
      Hi Mark,

      The response to the blog was really great. People had fun with it and it got a lot of people thinking of future possibilities, which was the main intent.

      I follow James Governor and really enjoy his blog.  It’s good to hear about your conversation.

      Thanks for taking the time to give us the inside scoop.  =)

      -ewH 

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