When I first saw this video by Johnny Lee, I thought it was awesome, futuristic-looking, but completely irrelevant to anything I might care about.
Two weeks later I saw it on Ted.com, where Lee describes the outburst in experimentation on the part of teachers and students alike in classrooms across America to expand on his innovation. After that, I basically assumed a personal responsibility to get my wife (who is a teacher) her very own multi-touch whiteboard in her first grade classroom. First watch:
Here are my steps for making this a reality for her, but realize that (1) I’m only about 3/4 of the way through the process and (2) this is in layman’s terms. I don’t program. I know little about hardware, and so if I’m come off as less than schooled on these matters it’s because, well, I am. (Much better support provided in the forums at WiimoteProject.com.)
Step 1: Bluetooth
Make sure you have Bluetooth on your computer/laptop. Seems silly, but if you don’t, then you’ll need to go out and get an external device that enables Bluetooth file sharing.
Step 2: Wiimote
Get a Wiimote. Again, sounds silly but hey, I gave up gaming with the eclipse of the Sega Genesis by faster, better game consoles. I don’t own a Wii, but I got one at BestBuy for $40.00. I’m sure you can get them online for much cheaper, but I was impatient.
Step 3 Sync ’em Up:
Sync your Wiimote with your computer. This is way more difficult than it sounds. Read the forum above, where I plan to detail the process I went through to do it, but suffice it to say that the Wiimote is not designed to sync with a PC. All other problems stem from there.
Step 4: Get the Pen
Fashion, or purchase, an IR LED pen. There is a great schematic on Johnny Lee‘s Web site, but this company, Penteractive sprung up in the wake of all of this and sells them for $8. Again, I’m not good with hardware so I opted for the easy way out.
Step 5: TBC…I’ve yet to get my pen in the mail, or download Lee’s free software, but I’ll leave an update and probably a video response to Lee’s once I do.
Why this is awesome
Lee didn’t invent. He innovated. What’s more, he made it in an open source way, promoted it on YouTube, and stands to provide every classroom in American with the tools to create a reasonably inexpensive interactive whiteboard.
To paraphrase the man himself, his solution is only about 80 percent as good as a commercial one. But it comes at about 1 percent of the cost.