News Article

Fit Meter Iwata Asks Outlines Panasonic Partnership and Moving Beyond Pedometers

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

Also highlights the game maker's lack of fitness

Wii Fit U's retail release is creeping closer — it hits stores in Europe and North America on 13th December — yet it's been available for over a month as a free trial. In a change from the Wii original that best reflects the stronger distribution options that the eShop gives Nintendo, the trial period has coincided with the release of the new Fit Meter, which can be purchased for less than the retail game and, ultimately, allows those with a balance board and hard drive space to pick up the new title for less.

The Fit Meter, which is supposed to be worn throughout the day and synchronises with Wii Fit U, is more than a simple pedometer, however. It measures activity intensity and altitude to more accurately reflect your level of exercise; yet Nintendo didn't produce the small piece of hardware on its own, but partnered up with the well-known Panasonic for the project.

This is outlined in a new Iwata Asks, in which Nintendo President Satoru Iwata was joined by the game's producer Tadashi Sugiyama, director Hiroshi Matsunaga, assistant director Yugo Hayashi as well as Nozomu Tooyama and Tadaharo Kitado from Panasonic. The process for producing the software that would accurately capture the data had the development partners working together closely, even if the Nintendo development team weren't the ideal test subjects for measuring activity.

Kitado: Well, first we worked on the programming, but testing that was very difficult.

Tooyama: We compared estimates for calories burned as calculated by the prototype we made, against calories burned measured by another method. We then made adjustments to close any gaps between the two methods to get the logic we had devised to work, but the experiments themselves were quite challenging.

Iwata: What kind of experiments?

Tooyama: We did things like wearing a special mask to measure the tester's breaths in order to determine how much carbon dioxide is exhaled in a short period of time and asking them to run on treadmills for a long time. We gathered lots of people and did repeated experiments.

Iwata: I suppose you would get different results depending on the age and gender of those who are participating, so you must have had to gather all sorts of people.

Tooyama: That's correct.

Iwata: I just remembered how people in the company said the development room smelled all sweaty when the team was working on Wii Fit. You were moving your bodies for measurements every day, so I thought development must have made you stay active.

Tooyama and Kitado: (looking at each other)

Iwata: Nothing to say? (laughs)

Kitado: Um, the developers carrying out the experiments are getting older too, so...

Everyone: (laughs)

Kitado: To achieve more accurate data, you have to exercise with a certain intensity for a certain amount of time. But the problem was that the developers would get too tired and give up partway through, so we weren't able to get data for intense workouts. It was a lot of work! (laughs)

Iwata: I see, it takes continuous exercise of a certain intensity for a certain amount of time to get useful data, so you were like, "You're flagging, so start over!"

Kitado: Yeah! (laughs)

For those that have used a Fit Meter, similarities to the Pokéwalker are fairly evident, and it was confirmed that the display software was initially based on the accessory.

Matsunaga: We also asked for development of the Fit Meter software. The Pokéwalker was actually the basis for the Fit Meter, so at the same time, we thought about what to display on the LCD.

Iwata: Did you make it based on specifications written by Nintendo?

Hayashi: Yes. I explained to Panasonic specifications that I had collated, but at first I didn't know how to organize it and arranged it like it was specifications for a game. I caused them some trouble.

Iwata: In other words, Hayashi-san was an amateur in this field, so he made specs completely unlike those you would make at Panasonic. Did that confuse you?

Kitado: Well, we were, um...confused! (laughs)

Everyone: (laughs)

Kitado: It may be a difference in corporate cultures, but once we draw up specs, we barely change them afterward. But I think Nintendo gradually polishes the product specs as development progressed.

Matsunaga and Hayashi: Right.

Iwata: Since you aren't used to that, it must have been hard when they asked you to change something you had assumed was set.

Kitado: Yes. That happened a lot.

Matsunaga and Hayashi: .... Right, sorry about that.

Iwata: Matsunaga-san and Hayashi-san have been smiling wryly and nodding quietly! (laughs)

And finally, this segment outlines the feature of placing two Fit Meters next to each other to compare activity levels. The conversation quickly degenerates into talking about Ani-METS (a MET is a measure of activity) and louder-than-normal laughs.

Tooyama: The biggest difference that I noticed was its presentation and form. The compatibility test feature that was added along the way was an idea that we would have never come up with ourselves, so I learned something new! (laughs)

Iwata: What kind of function is that?

Matsunaga: Placing two Fit Meter accessories facing one another to communicate would allow two users to see how compatible they are with each other. It compares the two users' activity patterns over the past 24 hours, and the more similar they are, the better a match they are for each other.

Iwata: Oh. People whose lifestyles exhibit similar patterns have greater affinity.

Matsunaga: Right. You're more likely to have the same pattern as a spouse or pet you walk every day, so your affinity goes up.

Tooyama: That part about the dog surprised me! You can put the Fit Meter on a dog, but having the units of dog activity be "Ani-METs!" (laughs) would never have occurred to us! (looks at Kitado-san) Right?

Kitado: Yeah. (laughs)

Iwata: You can't accurately measure calories burned for a dog, so we call those units AniMETs.

Matsunaga: Yeah. Some cooler ideas came up, but we decided on AniMETs because they were straightforward. (laughs)

Hayashi: That's right. They fit better.

Matsunaga: Yes.

Iwata: Yeah...

Everyone: (after a silence, loud laughter)

Tooyama: I mean, at our company, we'd be like, "How do we get this okayed?" I mean...we're talking AniMETs here!

Kitado: That idea would never pass. (laughs)

Iwata: It's interesting how you each experienced culture shock. (laughs) But without this encounter, Wii Fit U would not have turned out this way, and the Fit Meter wouldn't have turned out to be that different from conventional activity meters already out on the market.

Have you made use of the Wii Fit Meter and download Wii Fit U offer yet? As always, we recommend checking out the whole Iwata Asks to learn more.

[via iwataasks.nintendo.com]

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User Comments (29)

Kaze_Memaryu

#1

Kaze_Memaryu said:

To be honest, I've never seen any Wii Fit Meter's in stores yet, so I was assuming that it'd be on the way... oh well, I'm not into fitness, anyway.

Mk_II

#3

Mk_II said:

I haven't been able to find a Fit Meter and i've checked a lot of stores here in Holland.

Mellor2000

#4

Mellor2000 said:

Try Amazon. As a retailer I hate saying it but bricks and mortar stores are dying.

Cyberbotv2

#5

Cyberbotv2 said:

I've had the meter for almost a month. It's great, but I cannot figure out why I burn a lot more calories walking the same distance and route as my girlfriend. And I haven't figured out if I have to sync it daily, because I only get to my wii u on the weekend.

Gerbwmu

#6

Gerbwmu said:

@Cyberbotv2 - I only sync mine every few days and all of the data gets pulled. It does reset at midnight so you only see the stats for that day on the meter, but I was gone for a week and it still pulled the data for all 7 days.

keynote

#8

keynote said:

For some strange reason my altitude gets lower and lower. I'm now at -55m

dazzleshell

#9

dazzleshell said:

@Cyberbotv2

you can sync it at anytime -it will put any new data into wii fit u stats.
i put a weeks worth in last night.
Also for people buying meter on line. base.com is £1 cheaper than amazon.

cornishlee

#10

cornishlee said:

Who knows how long it will last for but Wii Fit U has been a big help for me regaining fitness over the last month. A foot injury in the summer left me hobbling for months. Gentle exercise on the Wii (including running - basically bouncing on your toes when you're doing it on the spot) helped me to strengthen those muscles without impact/stress on the damaged foot as well as build up fitness. I've now returned to running outside and I'm going twice as far as I ever managed before Wii Fit U.

@DESS-M-8 Yes.

@Cyberbotv2 You're probably burning more calories because you're bigger and heavier (just a guess!). Newton's Law.

Chi

#11

Chi said:

Wii U Fit was bashed on this site by almost everyone.
After using it for a month I love it as much as day 1.
Only way to get a meter right now is Amazon. At a glance I can check my calories burned and adjust my eating and excercise planning.
Fun, friendly, powerful and flexible- What more could you ask?

unrandomsam

#12

unrandomsam said:

I like Panasonic one of the few companies that seem to bother making things properly these days. (Sad they are stopping making Plasma TV's though but I got mine at something like 75% off so I knew it wouldn't be sustainable. £400 instead of £1600 miles better than a £400 LCD).

unrandomsam

#13

unrandomsam said:

@Chi So as much as this site seems to love stating how game.co.uk is great for Nintendo the fact is most of the time the only place that tries to keep everything in stock is Amazon.

bmprsvz777

#14

bmprsvz777 said:

A long time ago I received a looong survey from Nintendo where they asked a lot of questions about my satisfaction with their new Wii Fit Meter. Dear Nintendo I have Wii Fit U software installed for months and I have never ever seen any Wii Fit Meter in european store. It is crazy to ask customers about something Nintendo is unable to provide. I guess one day Mr. Iwata will tell his investors Wii U failed because customers are stupid and didn't buy... Well, you can only buy things that are in shops, sorry.

Chi

#15

Chi said:

@unrandomsam
I am in the US and no videogame retail store has seen even one meter.
Why Nintendo is distributing in this way is something maybe only Amazon and Nintendo knows.

Shadowkiller97

#16

Shadowkiller97 said:

The US date appears to be pushed back. A Wii Fit U info app that was auto-downloaded to my Wii U stated that the retail release is 1/10/14.

UPDATE: This appears to be correct because the US Nintendo page lists this date as well: http://www.nintendo.com/games/detail/rK_4Ln_ru27SWO1fxusaVkpdEwk3kFQY

New to Wii Fit? This bundle includes everything you’ll need to get started.

Available Jan. 10, 2014.

Wii Fit U, Fit Meter, and Balance Board

$89.99 MSRP*

Luna-Harmony

#17

Luna-Harmony said:

cool nintendo and panasonic work well together i used the own the Panasonic Q gamecube it was the most beautiful console ive ever owned.

DESS-M-8

#18

DESS-M-8 said:

@Cyberbotv2 I'm assuming you weigh more than your girlfriend? Therefore, you will burn more calories as you are carrying more weight, that's why men are recommended to consume aprroxiamately 500-1000 calories more than a woman per day, as they burn more.

Cyberbotv2

#19

Cyberbotv2 said:

@DESS-M-8 :
She was complaining that I was burning more than her, and we were doing the same things. She's small. I'm tall and heavier. It gives me a lot more reason to consume more calories though.

nameloc2080

#21

nameloc2080 said:

I managed to pick up a Wii Fit U Meter at my local GAME store the other day. I had to ask an assistant who noted one had come in that day and found it in the stockroom for me. Finding the meter really accurate so far.

iphys

#23

iphys said:

I got one, and it's pretty cool. I feel like it overestimates my Calories burned, but it's neat seeing where you walk up and down around town or else being able to see weather patterns due to air pressure changes over the course of a couple days. Also comes in handy if you lose your watch.

AlbertoC

#24

AlbertoC said:

Personally, i like my pedometers pokemon-flavoured. On my pokewalker i have 6,886,055 steps recorded over a span of 1364 days (since Pokemon HG/SS release). On a regular week day i make around 7,500 steps, 2500 under the "recommended" or "considered healthy" number of 10,000 daily steps. That, of course, with all the Pokemon related goodies (some of which cannot be transfered to new generations, by the way).

I'm also curious to know what happens when the total count reaches 9,999,999 + 1. How / does the hardware manage the overflow?

Boshar

#25

Boshar said:

@Mk_II Mediamarkt Rotterdam Centrum has them. Thats where I bought mine. Some friends of mine ordered theirs at the German Amazon store.

JaxonH

#27

JaxonH said:

So, I read that Wii Fit U info app that auto-downloaded onto the Wii U menu like Wii Sports Club did, and apparently (according to the official info app) the release date for Wii Fit U is now January 4th (or maybe it said Jan 10th, I can't remember...)

Anyways, I haven't heard anyone report on this, but if Nintendo is saying January in the app, I'm betting that Dec 13th release date is no longer valid (I'm in North America so not sure about elsewhere)

GamerJunkie

#28

GamerJunkie said:

Its nice that games like this remind people to exercise. Hopefully they also realize this is not really an efficient way to exercise and you can get in much better shape doing other things and using other kinds of exercise equipment.

This is a start for somebody that has 0 fitness, it will effect them some and they can/will lose weight because it is at least some activity compared to 0 they usually do, but if you are even a little in shape, nothing in this game will get you to see muscles and cuts and really change you at all.

Tmdean

#29

Tmdean said:

Damn, it doesn't work for bicycling? I was looking forward to getting it.

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