A Wii Controller Extension for those with Severe Physical Disability

This study was conducted by a multidisciplinary design team consisting of members from the Interactive Systems Research Group (Nottingham Trent University) in conjunction with specialists from the Division of Rehabilitation and Ageing, Nottingham University and the Portland College.

The website author’s responsibility within the study was the design and implementation of both the developed hardware and accompanying software solutions.

The Design & Research Objectives

The design objective of this study is the realisation of a Wii Controller extension, that would enable those with severe physical disability and or limited motor skills with the ability to interface with Wii Console based video games. Whilst it is likely that the complexity and speed required for interface would make it nearly impossible for certain members of this demographic to successfully play some games, there are others (both users and games) which would become viable. Furthermore this research would also determine the Wii Console as a suitable platform (given licence) for specialised software and games production.

The research objective of this study is to investigate the amalgamation of the current USID evaluation practice within the suggested human-centric design process, thus further informing the multidisciplinary approach towards design practice. This study aims to identify areas of friction between the activities of design analysis and design synthesis identified during the investigation of literature.

This study was conducted by a multidisciplinary design team consisting of members from the Interactive Systems Research Group (Nottingham Trent University) in conjunction with specialists from the Division of Rehabilitation and Ageing, Nottingham University and the Portland College.

The Research Proposal

The Nunchuk is the primary extension for the Wii Remote. Once connected to the Wii Remote, the Nunchuk gives the device additional functionality, such as those required for complex navigational tasks within virtual spaces; however research has demonstrated that the Nunchuk itself is a potential platform for the development of accessible technologies. The Nunchuk has multiple peripherals that provide it with many potential avenues for recursive concept development. Unlike the Wii Remote Controller however, the Nunchuk cannot function as an independent device.

The peripheral technologies of the Nunchuk can be detailed as follows:

  • A triple axis accelerometer
  • A thumb joystick
  • 2 momentary membrane switches

The Nunchuk is easily operable by the thumb and forefinger and the analysis of user requirements in previous study (Brown D. , Battersby, Standen, & Anderton, 2005) suggests that the Nunchuk could be easier to use than a standard game controller. Concept creation has identified that data obtained from the contained accelerometer could be used to provide means for tremor compensation, a distinct advantage for those within the severely physically disabled demographic, many of whom experience tremor as a result of cerebral palsy or other neurological problems acquired at birth.

The Proposal Rationale

Custom made alternative devices for those with special needs can be expensive and the low unit turnover makes the prospect unattractive to potential manufacturers. An alternative low cost solution is to exploit and modify contemporary gaming technologies for use as control devices. Such an interface would also demonstrate that divisions of the physically disabled demographic are a viable target for video gaming development. The device would demonstrate that with minimal adaptation and or creation of a bespoke extension, the existing system could be utilised.

Current research has indicated that the Wii Remote and or equivalent technologies can be used as expandable hubs for multifaceted Assistive Technology solutions. The advantage of such systems is that a blend of both technologies can be tailored to fit the individual requirements of members of large and heterogeneous user demographic. Idea generation exercises have determined that not only is the Wii Remote an optimal platform for the creation and evaluation of such solutions but also their implementation.

Publication and Citation Data

Original literature describing the study produced in conjunction with the author can be found in the appendix section of this thesis and via the following reference: Standen, Camm, Battersby, Brown, & Harrison, 2011. Foundation for the study can be found via Battersby (2008) and Battersby (2007).

A Wii Controller Extension for those with Severe Physical Disability
Posted on March 6, 2014 in Research by batts