Using The Wii U Controller With Everything

It’s been just a bit over a year since the Wii U was released along with the extremely impressive Wii U controller. With a D-pad, analog sticks, accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, camera and 6.2 inch touchscreen, this controller is ripe for a million and one projects ranging from FPV quadcopters and robots to things we can’t even think of yet. At this year’s Chaos Communication Congress, [booto], [delroth], and [shuffle2] demonstrated how they cracked open the Wii U controller’s encryption allowing for Wii U controller ‘emulation’ and giving us full documentation on how the whole thing works.

The guys started on their reverse engineering journey by dumping all the flash chips found on the controller’s board. In those binary blobs, they found Nintendo used a truly ingenious way of obfuscating the WiFi keys used to connect the controller to the Wii: rotate left by three. To be fair to Nintendo engineers, it was secure until someone figured it out.

Connecting the controller to a PC over WiFi is only half the battle, though. Initial information from the Wii U launch suggested Nintendo used Miracast for all the I/O between the controller and the console. This isn’t the case; instead the video, audio, camera, and button input are non-standard but very simple protocols. The hardest to break into was the video display for the touchscreen, but the guys discovered it’s pretty much H.264. After getting around some Nintendo weirdness, it’s possible to display video on the controller.

The guys have put together a small, extremely alpha library that comes with all the demos, documentation, and reverse engineering information. There’s a large wish list of what this library should include, but now that the information is public, it might be the time to pick up a Wii U.

Video of the talk below, here’s the presentation slides, and a demo of emulating a Wii U game pad on a PC.


  1. strider_mt2k says:

    I guess someone should do something with it…

    Well done!

  2. lwatcdr says:

    Humm so what will people do with this? Universal remote?

    • Tim says:

      I’m thinking use it to control the Parrot AR drone or any other RC goodies with cameras on them.

      Or use it as a controller on other consoles with its screen being used to display your wife’s “find my iphone” whereabouts so you know appox how much fun time remains.

  3. fartface says:

    Now this is how you document a hack. Once they get their library perfected so it’s not locking up the WiiU gamepad, if they can get it to work with multiple units to the same PC, then things get really interesting.

  4. cantido says:

    >demonstrated how they cracked open the Wii U controller’s encryption

    They didn’t break any encryption. Nintendo obfuscated WPS to make sure it only connects to the Wii U. If they were really concerned they would have done crazy stuff like putting ROMs inside of random chips instead of leaving the SPI flash out in the open and all the data in plain text.

  5. None says:

    @delroth: Please start “hacking” your spoken English and start using subtle breaks between words so you can be understood. I’m not a public speaker myself but I heard taking a breath once in a while also helps with the presentation

  6. Ooo that would be nice with a custom FW and build a robot that you can control with it :)

  7. Galane says:

    So the encryption is like ROT13 minus the 10? ;-)

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