March 14th, 2007, 19:34 Posted By: wraggster
It seemed like such a great story: the real truth from the Swiss company that makes the sensors in the Wii remote about how it won the contract because it was so farsighted and spotted a great market. You could read all about it in IEEE Spectrum:
Nintendo's Wii is the hottest computer game and arguably the only one that's good for you. Its two wireless remote controls track any movement, encouraging players to engage opponents with a heart-pounding physicality that is already melting fat off overfed children. Yet although detecting motion is critical to the success of the US $250 game, the job depends on $3 sensors the size of shirt buttons.
And who made them? Stand up (well, ring up the journalist and say "Hello?") ST Microelectronics, based in Geneva, and "Benedetto Vigna, the Italian physicist who developed the sensor." There's a long explanation of how STM "met Nintendo in March of 2005: our vision was in line with their vision, and we got married, he says. Two months later, ST delivered a prototype sensor, and 16 months after that, Nintendo launched worldwide sales."
Great story! Except for one thing: it wasn't entirely true. ST Microelectronics is not the maker of the sensor in the main Wiimote. No, as Philip Ross, the web editor, explains in his "substantial correction", that honour belongs to Analog Devices Inc:
it was ADI that had supplied the 3-dimensional accelerometer in the Wii's main controller. ST, [ADI noted], had merely provided the sensor in the secondary, "nunchuk" controller. It's secondary because most games now available don't even use it. Indeed, I'd played the baseball, tennis, and bowling games myself, all without having had recourse to the nunchuk.
As a journalist, one tends to go "Aw, crap" when that happens. And feel a little irked.
So I put the question to [the PR person at ST Microelectronics]: if the two chips were interchangeable, then why had the ADI chip been chosen for use in the main controller? "We would argue that both companies came out very well," he replied.
Why had he and Vigna characterized the ST chip as the "core" of the Wii, essential to its success? "I would say our answers were not misleading; they were precisely accurate. If you didn't do external research to find out about Analog, it's not our job."
Okay, okay, so I screwed up: I trusted these guys, and they hornswoggled me. In the old days, my only response would have been to say, "fool me once, shame on you." Nowadays, I have more options. I can, for instance, write this blog.
By the way, if anyone from STMicroelectronics was planning to call and tell us how they made the chip for the Wiimote, we're afraid we're busy... No, honestly...
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