Wiimote head tracking desktop VR display

If you thought [Johnny Lee] was done making us all buy Wiimotes, you were wrong. Now he’s back showing off a simple, but incredibly effective VR head tracker. He swapped out the LED’s on a pair of LED light safety glasses with a set of IR LEDs and used his PC/Wiimote combo to do the work. The demo is just fantastic. As usual, you can download the software from his project page.


  1. Bryan Ribas says:

    Way to go Johnny Lee


  2. barry99705 says:

    Hey, get this to run a pan, tilt rig and a “cheap” ir camera. With those rc spy car huds, this could be a pretty cool hack.

  3. KayDat says:

    Oh man. As if there wern’t enough reasons for me to go out and get a Wii.

    (Too bad the main reason for not getting one is still the same: money)

  4. You don’t need a Wii… just go out and buy a Wii Remote
    for $40. All of these cool hacks run on PCs with a Bluetooth adapter… no Wii Console required.

    There’s a decent sized collection of Wii Remote hacks here: http://forums.nintendo-scene.com/index.php?board=65.0

  5. DarkInvader says:

    Man you are fantastic!!
    Tomorrow i’ll go out to buy a wii remote…
    You give me new inspiration to do some code

  6. techyguru says:

    My first thought when I saw this was virtual pole dancer. It’s only a matter of time…

  7. Arcade boy says:

    Has anyone ever played any of the Konami Police 911 games? They track body movement and you have to duck or dodge to avoid bullets. I could just imagine it being truly 3D like this that would be amazing. With some type of smelly head device, (it wouldn’t have to be smelly but it would probably get sweaty and smelly from all the nerds using it.) They could even make a home version, just sell the user some glasses, and a wiimote stand and it would be awesome. The home one would probably be less smelly depending on the user.

  8. icec says:

    Holy hell. I was incredibly impressed by that. Game developers should take note- Johnny Lee just unlocked a whole lot more potential for the Wii. Also, they should hire him…

  9. Michael R says:

    I’m imagining some sort of dodgeball game or maybe a soccer goalie game. Very nice work. Johnny’s making Nintendo look bad, but I can’t wait for them to steal some of these ideas and put them into some great games.

  10. Andrew says:

    wow… just wow…

    this in combination with the Wii Fit balance board would make for some incredible full body games

  11. The Steven says:


    Sure, games, ok, but really as a shell enhancement, this would be KILLER!

    Think about this…
    1.) If the Wii remote will track four ir targets, then assume two are on the users head to control the POV, and the other two as light pens to manipulate objects on the screen.

    2.) What is the frame rate of the Wii remote camera?

    3.) Assuming the ir targets opperate in a steady state, how can the remote differentiate between targets?

    4.) Assume POV target #1 is flashing at 10pps, #2 is flashing at 20pps, and the pens are at 30 and 40 pps. Then you could also have one pen as a “left click” and the other as a “right click”.


  12. Albannach says:

    This is just beautiful – so simple, so effective, it’s the essence of a hack! And he does good video too.

    Now to steal a couple of wii remotes from the kids…

  13. TXX says:


    Damn i am thinking of getting a wiimote now! This is some of the most cheapest but awesomest hacks i’ve seen!

    Also, if Nintendo started doing games with these ideas :O omg.

  14. Sam says:

    This is Awesome.
    And really, given the capabilities of the wiimote, it could be extended to a two person split screen. A wiimote tracks 4 points. 1 person’s head needs 2 LED’s that leaves 2 other LED’s. So theoretically could have a person split screen.

    Also, since a different wiimote would have to be used to capture infrared on the screen, you could have a two person split screen and 4 mouse cursors.

    I also think, instead of using the infrared as a touch screen, it should be the mouse cursor. Then combine it with a mouse to get a left and right click. So moving the infrared source moves the cursor but other buttons would actually make it click. Like a remote mouse… a remouse… a wiimouse…

  15. AlphA says:

    It appears that Johnny Lee has done it again.

    With two targets, one in front of the other, I was able to orbit my point of view around the near target and observe the far target. Remarkable!

    This leaves me with one question: who will be the first lucky company to snatch this fellow up with a hefty salary, in order to add such an innovative mind to the team?

  16. Kamma says:

    First of all – this is amazing.

    Second – does anyone have an alternative to using the Wii’s sensor bar? I really want to give this a try but don’t want to have to power my Wii up every time.

  17. Tyler says:

    You dont even need anything nintendo related, am IR camera (subst. wiimote) and two IR leds (subst. sensor bar) and your on your way!

    Done and DONE!!!

    I already tried it =3

  18. Hooly shit! (excuse my lanquage) THis is AWSOME! It LOOKS SO 3D! I’m gonna have to try this out!

  19. Matthew says:

    Is there anything that this guy can’t do? Can’t he move in next door and invite me over so I can learn the ways of WiiHacking?

  20. Kamma says:

    So where do you get these IR Leds and how do you power them? (Sorry, I’m new to this stuff)

  21. Rad says:

    You could get this to track two different displays, and make them visible only to the person viewing them by using a 3d glasses like setup.

    Example. Player one’s targets are all blue, and he has blue tinted goggles. Player Two has Red targets and Red goggles. Because red glass only lets red light through, (If its tinted right) that would make Player 1’s blue targets invisible to player 2, and vise-versa. (You would probably need some opacity to the colors to avoid collision.)

  22. 3D hieroglyph says:

    Absolutely amazing execution! Isn’t this similar to the Sony patent filing unearthed last year?


    I’d love to see some of this integrated into some gaming in the future… Unfortunately the 3d gag is only visible to the person playing… But gaming by yourself is probably what most people do anyway, right?

  23. gonnafail says:

    If a person diddnt want to buy a wiimote, where could you get an ir camera that has the onboard chip that ouputs the x-y coordinates? I have searched everywhere and cant seem to find anything similar.

  24. Snazz says:

    @ gonnafail

    I believe that the Wiimote is the cheapest bluetooth, IR camera that you can find. You really can’t find a better deal than the Wiimote (6 buttons, bluetooth, IR camera, accelerometer).

    If you really want to do it your own way though, you could go jumping through google links or something. Other than that, I have no idea of where to get one.

  25. Tim Pope says:

    @ 16… any infrared leds (2 minimum) wired to a power supply
    @ 19… you need to get 2 infrared leds from an electronics shop, in the uk the best option is maplins in usa radioshack? you will also need to get resistors to protect them and some way to power them.. have a looksie at
    http://www.instructables.com/id/leds-for-beginners/ should help you understand
    @ 22… as 24 suggested the wiimote is actually one of the best options, but you can also convert a normal pc webcam into an infrared one (people do this alot for ftir based multitouch screens) and you could use something like touchlib to calculate the xy in software

  26. sIr Jelengar says:

    @all that want to try this and do not have a wiiimote, you should try the: http://www.free-track.net/ . It uses a unmodified webcam to track 4 leds mounted to your head and has 6DOF(directions of freedom). It can emulate the comercial TrackIR output, so you can use it with almost any PC game (ok, simulations mostly). It works really great, but there is some fuss with setting everything up.

    /proud citizen of nSk\

  27. InterloperKO says:

    Lets see a stereo optical PTZ camera system navigated by this :)

  28. JMoses says:

    @20 You could have two projectors that are polarized and each player use polarized glasses. This would cut down on the annoying colour difference, and would look cleaner to any other person.

  29. stg says:

    I did a similar consept some years ago with my class, using a webcam, flash and som nice IR LED, very simple and fun. Check it out
    The electronic Snowball :)

  30. Bryan says:

    I would buy a Wii if it had head tracking and supported multiple screens for each player with a controller.

  31. g says:

    Didn’t someone (SHarp I think) make an LCD display that was split so that people standing to one side saw one image and people on the other could watch something else? Combined with this you COULD have 2 player stuff…

  32. fenn says:

    @27 the traditional way to do this (for two eye viewing with parallax) is to alternate rapidly between the two views on the monitor, and use liquid crystal “shutters” in the glasses to block out the display when it is showing the wrong view. I suppose you could simply put a piece of polarizing film over each half of the monitor. i hear saran wrap works as a polarizing filter… http://individual.utoronto.ca/iizuka/research/cellophane.htm

  33. Wolf says:

    the majority of games can easily be split screened, so I don’t see how multiple displays would be a problem (so long as you could differentiate between the headsets)

    The real problem with multiplayer games of this sort would be the need for multiple players to maneuver around the screen for better viewing angles.

    Still though, if combined with eDimentional’s shutter goggle 3D system, this could create some crazy realistic environment renderings.

  34. I’m a mac developer ( my website is xiotios.com ) and am trying to figure out how to do this for macs. If anyone wants to help me that would be great!

  35. a random John says:

    once again johnny lee impresses with a hack that is cheap and impressive. This one has more practical uses than the last one, which was still pretty cool. I could see integrating this into my driveway game to make a 3d shooter in which you walk a bit forward to start moving forward, a bit back to start moving back and have some central location where you are standing still.

    Turning might be counterintuitive but you’d get the hang of it. This could make for some really cool interactive games.

  36. Cool.

    I’m not a GUI fanboy, but even I think that this would rock if it could be hacked into Compiz or Sun Looking Glass or whatever you prefer. That would be amazing.

  37. anthony says:

    this is probably the most awesome use of the wiimote i’ve seen so far. however, you can fool johnny’s system into thinking you’re moving into and out of the screen by turning your head back and forth a little. i think it would be best to omit this feature and only allow the camera to move laterally.

  38. techyguru says:

    kamma the easy answer is go to radioshack and calculate what resistor you will need by googleing “led resistor calc” and hook the led, resistor and whatever you use to power it up in a series circuit.

  39. Yesterday\'s Fish says:

    I’d love tho see this as an option for image editors like the GIMP or Photoshop.

  40. bencoder says:

    with just two IR LEDS you get 4 degrees of freedom(up down, left right, in out and rotation in the screen’s plane). if you add just one more in a triangular configuration so that one of the LEDS is closer or further away from the other two, then you can in fact get 6 degrees of freedom.

    Look up trackIR or freetrack for an open source implementation of the concept, but using IR cameras instead of a wiimote. i was intending to do this with the wiimote but mine hasn’t arrived yet.

  41. Mike says:

    Freaking awesome!

  42. Orion says:

    Someone needs to implement this asap, this is sick!!!! Imagine it on pc gaming? Any gaming?!

  43. yanges says:

    i have never seen any of johnny lee’s hacks, but this is a Great one! like he mentioned at end of vid, hopefully some Wii game developers will make something that can utilze this! way to go johnny!!

  44. Raditude says:

    Now this is really awesome. I would like to see this integrated into Ubuntu Linux. Your desktop can be bigger than the screen. I also like the idea of using it to control a mouse as well. I was thinking a device in your hand that points, and you press a button and the computer recieves a seperate signal through bluetooth that there was a mouse click, and reads where the pointer was on the screen to process the click.

  45. Byfly13 says:

    You know how cool this would be for a boxing game and it you did it right you could make the glasses 3d like red one side of the glasses and blue the other and enhance the effect even more.

  46. stev smit says:

    I just love your weblog. Very nice post. Actually you can do many thing to imporve it.

  47. Excellent articles and great blog, i shared it with my Digg friends on New York , Stumble UP ! , Cheers Andy Colleman – Chicago

  48. devturkler says:

    thank you Will

  49. Chakrapanye says:

    Hey very nice blog!! Man .. Beautiful .. Amazing .. I will bookmark your blog and take the feeds also…

  50. JULIETTE BERNARDINO says: Proxy not working!

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