The editors over at Fortune magazine were kind enough to dissect the Nintendo Wii controller recently, revealing an interesting tidbit.
In addition to all of the well known features of the controller, the Wii-mote appears to have a special chip on board which is designed for voice processing applications. According to Fortune, the so-called “Audio Translator” chip is designed to convert analog speech patterns into a digital data stream (among other things.) However, from what I can tell, it’s this chip from ROHM Electronics, which sounds more like it’s designed for voice and music output capabilities than for input. As a matter of fact, the chip is designed for use in voice guidance applications such as the speech your hear from GPS navigators.
If it is somehow usable for voice input, it’s not clear whether the internal speaker on the Wii-mote could be used as a microphone, or if the chip would require an additional input source. While it doesn’t appear that the chip is currently used by any games, I’m guessing we’ll see it used in the future.