Researching Wii 101 at Rice University

Rice University is conducting a research project using the Nintendo Wii to codify learning systems in ways that can be used in a range of human endeavors, from sports to surgery. The National Science Foundation (NSF) is funding the project.

With the NSF grant, Rice professors, Marcia O'Malley and Michael Byrne will spend the next three years researching motions through the Wiimote. The Wiimote will be used to compare motion data against the more expensive Vicon motion capture system to see how good the Wii is for robotic learning development.

"We're already grabbing motion data from the Wiimote," said O'Malley, "so soon we'll be able to measure a range of motion and then turn it into a mathematical model."

Their research into what they term the "cognitive modeling of human motor skill acquisition" will focus on three types of learners.

"There are experts who learn at a slow, steady pace, but they get there," she said. "There are novices, who learn at a slow, steady pace, but sometimes they never get there. And then there are those who start off awful, but somewhere in the middle of training they suddenly 'get it.'

"What will be interesting is, can we get this last group to 'get it' and become people who learn very quickly by honing in on the right cues? find out, we need data," O'Malley said.

Video clips of their research can be found online at the university website.

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