Wiimote to MIDI – English version

Wiimote to MIDI – English version

Following a large amount of emails I received, I decided to translate in english my recent post dedicated to the new Nintendo’s toy . Released in December 2006, the last console of the Japanese brand, the Wii, claims to be revolutionary by its new user interface, the Wiimote (hydrid of gamepad, remote control and movements sensor ), which completely changes the manner of playing by putting at contribution the player, who can from now interact more naturaly with the game, rather than simply press buttons.


How does it work?
In addition to the traditional buttons, force feedback and the integrated mini-speaker, the true innovation is the presence of a gravity and acceleration sensor (the ADXL330, used in the army or automobile safety, for airbags systems) inside the Wiimote which collects the movements and acceleration of the Wiimote on each of the 3 axis, X, Y et Z.

The good news is that rather than using a proprietary protocol to transmit the infos from the Wiimote to the Wii, and then lock its hardware to keep an exclusive use of it, Nintendo has made the excellent decision (probably by commercial will) to use the Bluetooth protocol, standard of communication on PC and Mac for several years. This means that you can connect your Wiimote to your computer, and  program it rather simply for any use you want.

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In this Post, we will learn how to connect Wiimote to a PC, and how to transform the values received into MIDI signals, to be able to control any VJing software (like Arkaos) or production/live audio (Ableton to mention only one of them).

- A Wiimote, of course (approximately £20/35$, online or at your local  video games shop).
- A Bluetooth Dongle (if your computer doesn’t have Bluetooth already, about £10/15$).
- Bluesoleil (shareware, it usually comes for free with Bluetooth dongles).
- GlovePie (freeware).
- MidiYoke (freeware, required for MIDI).

Connect your Wiimote to your PC:
Once your dongle installed, your Wiimote unpacked and filled with fresh batteries:
1 - Launch Bluesoleil (a grey icon appears in the taskbar, and then becomes blue once once the Bluetooth dongle initialized. Now, double-click on the blue icon to launch the program)
2 - You have to enable the “detection” mode: press simultaneously buttons 1 and 2 of your magic remote (LEDs start to flicker).
In Bluesoleil, start ”device detection” by clicking on the orange sphere in the middle.
3 - Your Wiimote has been detected, and appears as an icon in Bluesoleil, now you must activate the communication: select the wiimote icon (1 click) and then click on  ”HID service“, the mouse icon. if the connection is capricious, you might have to press simultaneously buttons 1 and 2 again,
If all occurs well, you should see a small animation which means a successful connection.

Interpret the signals:
The Wiimote is now connected, and sends its signal to your PC, but it is not being interpreted yet. This is where GlovePie will be helpful, to convert the signals received and return them to your favorites softwares and games.
Indeed, the software developed by Carl Kenner has the role of converting any type of signal (from a mouse, Joystick, a P5 glove) into another signal (MIDI, variables…) using a simple scripting language and/or a GUI.

Now, start GlovePie (version 0.29 to date). By default, the freeware opens on the empty script editor. Fortunately, there are loads of scripts provided with the install: for example, load WiimoteScripts/WiiMouse 0.1.PIE, and click on RUN, and you can now control your mouse cursor with your Wiimote. Also, you have to try Drummerkit, and then you can play “air battery” :)

Midiiiiiii !
So, now it gets exciting.. Everything is now ready, the last thing to do is to install MidiYoke (a virtual MIDI port, which emulates a MIDI device to use like a ”bridge” with your midi softwares) then download and launch this Glovepie script, which will finally enable you to get the Wiimote movements to any software supporting midi.

In the latest version beta0.2, you get the  of  X, Y and Z slope value from your Wiimote, which are converted into  #CC values 30, 31 and 32, variables from 0 to 127, which allows you to scratch a video or to fade it up and down by waving your Wiimote in the air. Also you must test it with Ableton, the results are very surprising, especially on the live effects!

As you can see, the buttons are mapped to “midi notes”, and allows you to launch events very simply. You can also send keyboard events instead, or change midi notes values depending on your needs. The script is now comented in english, and I will keep updating it this way.

It’s still a bit basic, and there are many extra things possible, so the next steps will be to use acceleration sensors, use the sensorbar, and also use the Nunchuk (the second gamepad available), and maybe connect more wiimotes for multi-user interaction…
Don’t hesistate to post links of what you achieved with wiimote2midi, and ask for updates or special requests…

23/02/07 – beta0.1

24/02/07 – beta0.2 (comments in english)

Here’s a short video demo of VJing with a Wiimote:

Other tutorials:
- Wiimote to Midi (PC).
- Wiimote to Midi (PC) french version.
- Wiimote to Midi: VJing video.
- Wiimote to Midi for Ableton Live (PC).
- Wiimote to Midi: Mac & Linux.



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