Using the Nintendo Wii to Assess Motility in the Elderly

Honors Thesis
Becca Groveman '09
Faculty Advisor: Professor Barbara Lerner

elderly Wii user
Image from Daily Tech online magazine


Motility analysis is an important issue, especially in eldercare. Due to health care costs and a shortage of healthcare providers, institutional support for the growing number of elders in society will be impossible. An alternative to institutional support is in technology to assist in aging in place. There are many high-end systems available to assess motility. Though these systems help elders to stay independent for longer, they are expensive and require specialized equipment. My project explores the viability of using the Nintendo Wii as an inexpensive alternative. The high-end systems available can collect data with a greater accuracy than the Wiimote can, and can collect more data -- while the Wiimote can track up to four IR points simultaneously, a commercial system can track many more, and can visualize the data with greater sophistication. However, the Wii is inexpensive, intuitive, and accepted by the elderly population. While it cannot compete with high-end systems, it may be an acceptable substitute to allow for more frequent motility analysis. My project will determine whether it can be used to gather data with sufficient accuracy to be useful.

Experimental Setup

diagram of experimental setup

Nintendo Wiimote
Image from


Screenshot of Gesture Visualization Program

Head-on view of calibration square during single bowling motion

More Information

This project was awarded "Project most likely to have a positive impact on society" at the New England Undergraduate Computing Symposium (NEUCS'09).

The full text of my thesis is available here.

Documentation on using the software is available here.