Scientists use Wiimote to measure evaporation

While the recently released Kinect may be making gamers reconsider their loyalty to Nintendo’s Wii, there’s still some use left in swinging a motion controller around. Scientists are using the Wiimote to successfully measure evaporation.

The unusual approach was detailed in a paper in the Water Resources Research journal, where the inexpensive Wiimote replaced a costly pressure transducer. In the current economic climate such savings could prove significant for the meteorological industry, either that or it’s a sneaky way to edge Mario Kart into your day job.

The technique involved requires the Wiimote to track four floating infrared reflectors that are placed in water, in a similar way to how the controller tracks the hidden LEDs on the infrared sensor bar gamers stick on their TV.

Normally the pressure transducer would note rises or drops in water level, but with the IR reflectors moving up and down, the Wiimote can just as easily detect these changes, which in turn help the scientists measure the rate of evaporation.

When putting this method to trial in a body of water natural waves can impact on the results but the researchers found that using the Wiimote technique allowed for accurate measurement of the water level to within a single millimetre, a largely negligible difference.

Evaporation measurement is an important area of research particularly for making weather forecasts and for flood prevention.