Surf Google Earth With Wii Balance Board

The controller transmits your movements to the Earth Surfer application using Bluetooth and allows you to maneuver a "virtual milktruck" by shifting your balance.

Thomas Claburn, Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

January 8, 2009

1 Min Read

Starting next week, Mac users should be able to surf Google Earth using a Nintendo Wii Balance Board.

In a blog post, David Phillip Oster, a Google Earth iPhone engineer, explains that he created a program called Earth Surfer that can interpret Bluetooth data transmissions from a Wii Balance Board and can use that data to control navigation in Google Earth.

"The Wii Balance Board transmits your movements to the Earth Surfer application using Bluetooth and allows you to maneuver a virtual milktruck by shifting your balance as if you were on a surfboard," he explains.

Oster said that he wrote the application to inspire others to write their own programs. Along with the application, the source code will be posted next week on the Google Mac Developer Playground. It's open source under the Apache license.

Those unable to wait a week to try it out might be satisfied with the Monster Milktruck demo in the Google Earth API Demo Gallery. It's a driving simulation that shows how Google Earth terrain can be used in a Web browser though the Google Earth API. Oster credits Monster Milktruck as the inspiration for his Earth Surfer application.

Oster's blog post includes a YouTube video of Earth Surfer in action.

Google on Monday released Picasa for Mac, a Mac version of what was previously a Windows desktop photo editing and management application, only to be upstaged on Tuesday by Apple's announcement of iPhoto '09.

About the Author(s)

Thomas Claburn

Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful master's degree in film production. He wrote the original treatment for 3DO's Killing Time, a short story that appeared in On Spec, and the screenplay for an independent film called The Hanged Man, which he would later direct. He's the author of a science fiction novel, Reflecting Fires, and a sadly neglected blog, Lot 49. His iPhone game, Blocfall, is available through the iTunes App Store. His wife is a talented jazz singer; he does not sing, which is for the best.

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