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In these budget conscious times, schools who want to integrate modern interactive technologies have a choice, buy a SmartBoard , or build your own for a fraction of the cost. Johnny Chung Lee has done some of the groundbreaking work with the Wii, the build instructions and downloads can be found on his site. In addition to the Wiimote, you’ll need an infrared light emitting pen, which you can build yourself for short money.

Since the Wiimote can track sources of infrared (IR) light, you can track pens that have an IR led in the tip. By pointing a wiimote at a projection screen or LCD display, you can create very low-cost interactive whiteboards or tablet displays. Since the Wiimote can track upto 4 points, up to 4 pens can be used. It also works great with rear-projected displays.

Rather than spending thousands of dollars per classroom, students and faculty could make them in-house while helping to transform the school into a more technology-rich learning environment. With a project like this in your school, it could be a great way to do some electronics, system design and get a taste of mass production of the components. While this may not fit in to your current curriculum to have students build these systems, it could be a great way to collaborate across subject areas, or it could provide a great after school club activity.

Has your school built one of these $40 smartboards? How well do they work in comparison to other interactive display systems? Let us know about your experiments and experiences in the comments. [Thanks Rachel!]

Chris Connors

Making things is the best way to learn about our world.


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Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    For anyone who hasn’t seen johnny lees projects before, there are other cool projects:
    1. tracking your fingers with a wiimote
    2. Head Tracking for Desktop VR Displays using the Wii Remote (really cool project)

    Apart from that there is a forum that deals with wiimote projects called:
    http://www.wiimoteproject.com/
    its a good place to start for anyone interested.

    The wiimote smartboard has already been implemented by various schools around the world.

  2. Steve Dickie says:

    I’ve made a Wiimote Whiteboard for use in my classroom. While it’s gotten far easier than when I first started messing with it it is still a bit of a hack. Once you get it working it works pretty well.

    That said you are missing one piece. All interactive whiteboards come as a whole integrated system. You have to build this all yourself a piece at a time and there’s not enough money in it to attract real designers. The closest any have gotten so far to an interface is Smoothboard (smoothboard.net).

    Anyway you can find my collected knowledge at http://wiimote.flosscience.com/

  3. Rob says:

    There is a printable and lasercut stand available to hold the Wiimote on Thingiverse which can help with this project.

    Printable: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1299
    Lasercut: http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:788

  4. Adam Z says:

    A few friends, my brother, and I did this a while ago. One of them is installed in our school. Its an excellent project!

  5. wbc3 says:

    I did this in three classrooms at the high school where I teach, and used them for about a year, then got Promethean Activboards. The administration decided to install Activboards for the teachers that had demonstrated their willingness to try something new :). The Wiiboard was not so great for writing a lot, but great for using java applets and for notating over powerpoint presentations. I used “gooseneck”, clip-style microphone holders to hang the Wiimote from the suspended ceiling, and got about 85% coverage (according to the read out on the mouse emulation software). One thing that you had to get your brain around when using it was the fact that you could only interact by clicking the mouse. There isn’t any “mouse-over”. Pens were pretty easy to build after a trip to radio shack.

  6. baconismidog says:

    When I made mine I put this site up. It has a shopping list with parts from Radio Shack and a list of software I used.

    http://sites.google.com/site/wiiwhiteboard/

  7. fasteddy says:

    I used Smoothboard to experiment with one in the office. With a little practice it works well. I agree that you don’t want to write a novel, but marking up text or diagrams cooperatively works very well.

    1. Stephanie says:

      Well Smoothboard does works well to annotate preferably on whiteboard using IR Pen. You may click on this to check out the latest feature of this software here : http://www.smoothboard.net/download

  8. what ways can you make your own Wii account and get play station, Nintendo Wii, Minecraft, Xbox 3D, Xbox 360, GB, and/or Wii sports.

  9. Gajanan bodhe says:

    Thanks for sharing such a valuable information sir..
    i’m working on this project to make interactive smart board using wiimote..i’m going to buy a digital projector & wiimote controller for my classroom…i hope that the information provided here will be helpful to me…thanks once again sir..