Science contribution

Wii Bit of Fun at Rice University Has Serious Intent
Rice University (12/09/08)

A Rice University research project is using the Nintendo Wii video game console to codify learning systems for use in a variety of human activities. Rice professors Marcia O’Malley and Michael Byrne have received a three-year National Science Foundation grant to measure the motions of people performing tasks such as playing paddleball or flying a fighter jet using the accelerometer contained in the Wii’s Wiimote controller.

The research builds on previous work by O’Malley, the director of Rice’s Mechatronics and Haptic Interfaces Laboratory, which used robots to treat stroke victims as part of a study to map how people learn physical tasks.

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

The goal is to unite virtual reality and robotics in such a way that it allows people to absorb information through the repetition of motor pathways. The research into “cognitive modeling of human motor skill acquisition” will focus on three types of learners–experts who learn slowly but achieve their goals, novices who learn slowly and may never reach proficiency, and those who are somewhere in the middle of training and suddenly excel at the task.

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I think this means that I’m making a contribution to Science when I bowl now.