Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sharing creativity key to innovation

I found this article about Mr. Lee's spectacular creativity using the Wiimote extremely interesting. What impressed me most was his willingness to share his ideas. I hope his current employer (Microsoft) does not rein in this enthusiasm.

"IN December, Johnny Chung Lee, then a Ph.D. candidate, posted a five-minute video on YouTube that became an Internet sensation.

To share his innovation, Johnny Chung Lee posted a video on YouTube. In it, he uses a Wii remote controller and “head tracking” glasses to make a screen image come alive.

The video showed how, in a few easy steps, the Nintendo Wii remote controller — or “Wiimote” — could transform a normal video screen into a virtual reality display, with graphics that seemed to pop through the screen and into the living room. So far, the video has been seen more than six million times.

Contrast this with what might have followed from other options Mr. Lee considered for communicating his ideas. He might have published a paper that only a few dozen specialists would have read. A talk at a conference would have brought a slightly larger audience. In either case, it would have taken months for his ideas to reach others.

Small wonder, then, that he maintains that posting to YouTube has been an essential part of his success as an inventor. “Sharing an idea the right way is just as important as doing the work itself,” he says. “If you create something but nobody knows, it’s as if it never happened.” - More

Although I have much more affinity for software applications than hardware applications, I couldn't help but admire the Wiimote VR project and hope Nintendo (or Microsoft) moves forward with its development. Some years ago at Comdex I evaluated several different VR headsets and most of them depended on manipulating the color spectrum in a way similar to the classic 3D glasses of the 50s did. Mr. Lee's approach is quite revolutionary. I wonder if the wearer experiences headaches or nausea like the old-style approach?

I also visited Mr. Lee's Wiimote Project discussion forum and watched a fascinating video about a guitarist using a Wiimote strapped to a guitar to create an instrument that uses the player's movement to modulate the frequency of the notes generated when the strings are plucked. If amateurs are coming up with these kinds of applications, I wonder what the pros at Nintendo have in store for all of us?
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