Wireless controllers just gained some street cred.
Yet another unexpected GameCube peripheral to be shown at Spaceworld 2000, the Wavebird wireless controller is the first first-party wireless controller since...ummm...the NES days? Anyway, it's been a long time. Wireless technology has long been considered undependable in the gaming industry, which is a very bad thing when you're at the last level of Bowser's castle and suddenly your controller's beam to the system gets cut or blocked.
So, it should be no great shocker that we were all a bit taken aback when Nintendo showed off its very own wireless GameCube controller. This one, however, would prove to be quite a different animal than we imagined. The Wavebird uses state-of-the-art radio signal technology (NOT infrared, like the old stuff used). The benefits are myriad: greater range, stronger signal, and no more "disconnects" when someone or something comes between you and the GameCube. The controller uses a version of the same technology that powers 900 mHz cordless phones.
There are two main differences between the Wavebird and the normal GameCube controller (if you can call it "normal"). First, the Wavebird has longer handles than the corded GC controller shown at Spaceworld. Second, the middle section is bulkier, to accomodate a battery compartment. Some reports indicate that the Wavebird will not include vibration capability like the regular controllers, but we can neither confirm nor deny that claim right now. Battery life would certainly be cut down, but it might still be respectable. It is possible that the Wavebird is only designed for one-way communication to the GameCube, but for all we know, it might also be able to receive data from the anchor unit that plugs into the console. In that case, there is no reason why the rumble feature wouldn't work, unless Nintendo just couldn't fit it into the controller or simply didn't want to fool with the shorter battery life.
The Wavebird should retail for only slightly more than the standard GameCube controller. Nintendo will probably not sell a system bundle with the wireless controller, at least initially.