‘Wheel of Fortune’ will enter its 40th season with a laser-guided LED puzzleboard

Venerable game show “Wheel of Fortune” will mark 40 years on the air Monday with a new high-tech puzzleboard in tow and a planned “XL Week” featuring bigger prizes for contestants to win.

“XL Week” and the new features were announced by the show earlier this week.

Co-host Vanna White will now stand next to a single-screen LED board. Instead of flipping the letters or touching squares on the screen, Ms. White will simply gesture, breaking the plane of motion sensors and triggering the display of a letter. The board uses LIDAR (Light, Imaging, Detecting and Ranging) laser technology to detect motion, the same technology used in NASA’s Mars Rover and self-driving cars.

“There’s a laser, and I can run my hand over it. I don’t even have to touch it!,” Ms. White explained to ABC News.

In past seasons, there were 52 illuminated monitors to display the letters. Using a single LED screen will allow for more leeway in creating graphics to display for the program.

“We have a beautiful new puzzleboard. We’re trying to give away the most money ever offered on the syndicated version of the show. But, more than anything, I want our viewers to continue to enjoy this classic game while adding a few new and interesting twists,” Wheel of Fortune Executive Producer Bellamie Blackstone said.

The first week of the 40th season will be “XL Week”, XL being the Roman numeral for 40. The week will have bigger prizes, puzzles, and more chances to win big. 

Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak marvels at how long the show has kept chugging along.

“Vanna and I used to sit around after like 10 years and go, ‘How long do you think this thing can go on?’ Well, we stopped asking about 20 years ago. It just seems to keep motoring along,” Mr. Sajak said.

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