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.