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Nintendo "Didn't Know What To Do" With The Wii Vitality Sensor

Posted by Damien McFerran

Neuro-technology professor gives his take on the vapourware heart monitor

The Wii Vitality Sensor was announced in 2009 but has never seen the light of day — and Professor Roger Quy thinks he knows why.

Speaking at the recent NeuroGaming Conference in San Francisco, Quy passed his own opinions on why the strange peripheral never made its way to market:

With regard to the Nintendo sensor, at that time we were trying to start this company that would use pulse sensors, but not just to measure pulse rate – that doesn’t tell you too much.

You have to be more sophisticated than that if you want to measure things thing arousal, valance or a range of emotions using heart-rate variability. I don’t think Nintendo really knew what to do with that.

So you measure your heart-rate – so what? Once you’ve measured it a few times … I mean you could always just hold your finger on your pulse. That’s why, again, value out – why use a switch when 40 relays will do?

That sort of concept has to be useful, so you’re not just designing this in just from the point of view of adding another widget, and not necessarily bringing anything new to the party.

Nintendo has been rather quiet on the prospect of the Vitality Sensor getting a release, although back in 2011 president Satoru Iwata insisted that it would hit the market "when everyone can enjoy it".

Professor Quy also touched on the recent craze for "brain training", as popularised by Nintendo's own Brain Age series. He feels that rival companies operating in this sector are struggling to provide a meaningful service to their customers:

I think, certainly in the therapeutic area to have something that’s entertaining and fun is a big deal. I think a problem with many of the brain training companies is that they’re just damn boring to use. If you listen to tones for about two hours at a time it’s hard to keep going.

I think Brain Training [the game] is where we can add in fun and entertainment, whereas the goal at the end of the day is improvement, whether that’s a therapeutic definition – or if you fly under the radar screen of the [US Food and Drug Administration] by just talking about quality of life measures.


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User Comments (31)



Big_L91 said:

what about a horror game that reads your pulse and somehow acts on it.



SilentHunter382 said:

I completely forgot about when I first saw it at E3. When I was it it just felt like a silly gimmick and I still feel the same way.



NintendoMaster said:

I remember when they announced this at E3. If I remember correctly I remember Iwata mentioning that it could be used in relaxation games Nintendo was working on.



Gameday said:

Well once someone figures out what to do with this device could be a fun venture indeed.



snoox said:

He said the reason: "So you measure your heart-rate – so what?"

But the kind of game that I wud try with this is what Japan is full of but not here in the West is a DATING SIM GAME



Mortenb said:

There are tons of ways to use this. Difficulty scaling, knowing when you are bored, some others here mentioned other great alternatives. This guy has no imagination. Although it would be best to include in the controller instead of a separate peripheral. I think Nintendo dropped this because no one would buy a separate device for this, not because there is nothing to use it for.



Midnight3DS said:

Good thing, these gimmicks get out of hand. A tv, console, and controller for me, thank you very much.



Bulbousaur said:

Eh, this just felt gimmicky when it was first announced anyway. I personally think Nintendo announced it as a testament to their creativity more than anything. I don't see a use for this that would be widely accepted in the gaming community. We already have sticks to wave around and screens to poke, I don't want something strapped to my finger thank you very much.



Burning_Spear said:

I think the Vitality Sensor was just Nintendo toying around with an idea. I think, one way or another, we were led to believe that it was much more of a possibility than it really was. I'm sure there are a hundred others that we never hear about.



CasuallyDressed said:

Haha, this is bizarre! Surely you'd think up a use for a peripheral BEFORE designing and producing it?!



FritzFrapp said:

They should have made a foray into the sex market, without using the Nintendo name. Could have been a decent money-spinner.



retro_player_22 said:

I was never fully interested in the Wii Vita Sensor, to me it felt kinda useless and unnecessary I'm just glad Nintendo give it the boot just like they did their other failure devices like the Virtual Boy, 64DD, and GCN LAN Adapter.



real_gamer said:

I think it could be use with Metroid. Imagine in Metroid Prime when you have to fight a platoon of Space Pirates with the music. Samus heart beats with your heart. But then...what else to do with it?



Kyloctopus said:

I'm sure Nintendo could have thought of something. I think the real reason was that simply the technology wasn't always accurate.



TrueWiiMaster said:

I still think a horror game where you could hear your own heart beat as you play would have been interesting, but other than that and a fitness game I can't think of any use for this thing.



iphys said:

I'm surprised they didn't at least find a boring use for it in Wii Fit.



PinkSpider said:

This would have worked amazingly well with zombieu that game made me jump so much. It would have had to be incorporated into the controller though



ajcismo said:

In a perfect world it would be packed in with Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem Part 2.
And when the game was done, probably never used again.



SCAR said:

I was saying maybe just to change AI, backgrounds, music, etc. It could act as a sort of mood ring for games. Or turn it into glove or arm band, then play a sports game like they originally said.



DarkNinja9 said:

same as most when i saw this announced i was like wtf is that? and still looking at the pic i go wtf o.O just let the idea go unless they can make it rly interesting i doubt anyone looking forward to this

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