I bought my wife a Wii video game console for Christmas because she said she wanted to use it to get in shape despite a recent study conducted here at Ole Miss that showed users rarely achieve that goal with the system not because the system doesn’t work but because users, after a few days or weeks, abandon their exercise routines. I also didn’t bring up the various pieces of exercise equipment we’ve bought over the years that spent a few weeks as exercise equipment, a few months of serving as a coat rack and now occupy a space in the attic.
I also didn’t bring up the fact that I think video games are a huge waste of time and money and have contributed to obesity, violence and a general withdrawal from the real world. So I plunked down the cash and got my wife what she said she wanted for Christmas. In addition to her fitness software, the gaming console also came packaged with a few basic sports games such as golf, tennis and bowling all controlled by a sensor bar on top of the TV that reads the movements of a hand-held remote used by the player.
Now I had heard all the horror stories about Wii players getting so into the games that occasionally they forget and let go of the remote which goes flying into their new flatscreen TVs turning them into flatscreen doorstops. In fact, there have been so many accidents, even with a wrist strap that’s supposed to keep the remote in your hand, that there’s a web site, wiiinjury.com, that tracks all the maiming and destruction, often with video of the actual event.
I wasn’t about to let that happen to me. I tightened up the wrist strap on the remote good and tight and challenged my wife to bowl a few games the other night. I think I threw out my hip in the process. I was sore for days afterwards. They have ratings on video games to let you know if they’re suitable for young children. They should have a rating that lets you know if they’re suitable for people over 50.
But Microsoft announced this week that it has developed a new computer interface system that will allow you to control all sorts of things, including video games, with just hand gestures, no remote devices required. The Natal system, as it is called, will allow you to turn your TV on and off, change the volume or the channel, or play video games all without fear of a remote flying into your grandmother’s cherished crystal goblets. All you have to do is move or perform a certain hand gesture and the sensors read it and implement the appropriate command.
That sounds very promising. In fact, I wish I had one right now so the Wii in the den could read my hand gesture.
Marty Russell writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 222 Farley Hall, University MS 38677 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.