One of my favorite things about videogames is the influence that they have had on other aspects of our culture. We often hear stories of Xbox 360 controllers being used to control drones and the like, but here's an example of a gaming device being used for science in a very different way. A group of researchers has used a Wii Remote in order to track evaporation.
Equipment typically used to measure the rate of water evaporation runs hundreds of dollars. This intrepid team, who published their findings in Water Resources Research, affixed IR reflectors to a float in a water pan and used the Wii Remote's camera to track the surface level. Even with substantial wave activity (simulated with a small pump), the camera was able to accurately measure the water level up to a millimeter.
The system is not perfect yet, as the team did find a bias which they are hoping to resolve with some modifications. They are also considering implementing the Wii Remote accelerometer for additional accuracy.
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8:00 PM on 12.25.2014