NHS students put the 'We' in school project Collaborative effort results in Wii Disc Changer

Aaron Krause • Oct 29, 2015 at 12:16 PM

Don't look now, but four Norwalk High School graduating seniors could become famous entrepreneurs one day.

For them, it's not just an empty dream they've built a device that could catapult them to fame within the gaming industry.

Recall, for a moment, the convenience of a rotating musical CD disc changer.

A listener doesn't have to insert or eject and put away discs to hear another CD. Simply press a button and viola! The CDs rotate to the position indicated and the music on another starts playing.

Everyone might enjoy that same convenience with Wii discs in the near future, thanks to graduating seniors Chris Lau, Brian Shewfelt, Chris Stein and Keaton Wunder. They have invented what they are calling the Wii Disc Changer for their capstone engineering project.

According to the students, the changer will solve many problems, including organization, broken games, lost games and hassles with changing games.

The Nintendo Wii is the latest addition to the gaming industry. Basically, it is a console that is tiny and equivalent to the size of three DVD cases placed together. It has a front loading disc assembly that accepts not only regular CDs, but also Wii discs and smaller Game Cube discs.

The Nintendo Wii is run by a PowerPC Processor from IBM and comes with a modern onboard graphics engine with a 512 mb flash memory.

Stein estimated it took him and his fellow students three-quarters of the school years to plan and build the Wii Disc Changer.

They began with a problem: many game players have problems with losing, scratching and breaking discs. Also, the repetitive changing of game discs becomes an inconvenience.

"How are Wii solving it? The Wii Disc Changer," the students quip on a written presentation they recently gave on their newest invention.

The teenagers researched the Internet and conducted surveys to justify their stated problem. The young men surveyed 232 people, age high school through 40, about the game consoles they own, how many games they've played in past months and any problems they experienced.

Of the 81 people who had issues, 12 percent reported hardships with Wii.

The students decided to build an external disc changer, completed it and came to this conclusion: "After searching through multiple patents, we can conclude that there is nothing exactly like the solutions we have to our problem."

They said theoretically, all the parts they used to construct the disc changer would have cost $417. But people donated several pieces of equipment, so it cost the students only $37.

The students' teacher, Adam Leutenegger, said he is proud of them.

"I think they did a great job," he said. "That high school students can accomplish something like this is amazing. I think personally they could make a lot of money on this."

The students, all of whom want to become engineers, will work over the summer and beyond to bring their invention into the market

"It's possible that this would sell amazingly," Stein said. "We chose the Wii because it's popular, it's in demand. They're selling like crazy."

The young entrepreneurs are projecting their device to sell from anywhere between $80 to $100.

But, Shewfelt said he'll be motivated by more than money.

"It's a sweet idea," he said.

Others apparently think so as well. The students demonstrate the Wii Disc Changer on YouTube and have received positive feedback.

"That looks great; can't wait to see it when it works completely," one person wrote.

"That's pretty epic...I need me one of those," somebody else commented.

Over the summer, the college-bound students want to develop a patent.

They've already come up with a name for themselves: Wiinonymous.


You can see a demonstration of the Wii Disc Changer atwww.youtube.com. In the search field, simply type in "Wii Disc Changer."

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