Nintendo is branching out from its established role as a gaming giant to embrace healthcare, with the announcement of a new sleep sensor.

Despite revealing plans for a piece of hardware that could help improve its consumer’s quality of life back in February, Nintendo has since kept quiet about the matter. The vague announcement led many to believe that the new product would be a health-centric console, which made sense in light of the declining sales of the Wii U.

Since then, however, the Wii U has experienced a turnaround with the release of Mario Kart 8 and a stunning slate of upcoming titles, including Super Smash Bros., setting it up nicely for the holiday season.

Now the company’s President Satoru Iwata has revealed more information regarding its new direction. According to Iwata, Nintendo will release a device called the Quality of Life (QOL) Sensor that can monitor a user’s body movements, heart rate and breathing. The QOL Sensor is placed next to the user’s desired sleeping area where it collects its data using radio waves and then sends the information to cloud-based servers for analysis. Users will then be able to access the results, which will determine their sleep quality and fatigue levels.

The QOL Sensor will also offer users advice on ways to improve their sleep quality, which can include getting more exercise or dietary recommendations. The information will also be made available through “smart devices”, although Nintendo did not elaborate on whether this meant smartphones, fitness trackers or simply its own consoles.

“Fatigue and sleep are themes that are rather hard to visualise in more objective ways,” said Iwata. “At Nintendo, we believe that if we could visualise them, there would be great potential for many people regardless of age, gender, language or culture.”

The QOL Sensor was created in conjunction with US healthcare devices manufacturer ResMed and is expected to be released in 2016. The new device will form part of a services-based health business for Nintendo.

Saqib Shah

Tech/gaming journalist for What Mobile magazine and website. Interests include film, digital media and foreign affairs.
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