Although Nintendo reported encouraging Q2 earnings yesterday, the company has been clear about its need to expand into new areas of business. At an investor briefing today, CEO and president Satoru Iwata announced that Nintendo is working on a sleep-tracking device that uses radio waves to monitor users' nighttime activity. The news represents the first solid details we've heard about Nintendo's "Quality of Life (QOL) platform, which Iwata first mentioned back in January with talk of mysterious "non-wearable" technology.
Iwata expanded on the concept of "non-wearable" today, saying the sleep-tracking device won't require wearing, contact, operation, waiting time, or installation effort on the part of the user; from a simple drawing on a presentation slide, it's designed to be placed on a bedside table.
The device will be developed in collaboration with Resmed, a firm that has created technology to treat disorders such as sleep apnea and sells a non-contact sleep-tracking device that sounds pretty similar to Nintendo's plans. It'll upload data to Nintendo's QOL servers and help users monitor the quality of their sleep and the level of their fatigue. Nintendo says that its game machines and smart devices will also be able to interface with the QOL cloud platform. The QOL initiative is set to launch in 2016.
Nintendo has entered similar territory before, of course, with the massive success of Wii Fit and the shelved Wii Vitality Sensor. The Wii Fit series has sold over 42 million copies, demonstrating the company's knack for simple software that makes sense of fitness data. But it was first released to a different world, one before Fitbit, Jawbone, and countless other companies attempted to leverage the rise of smartphones to help track users' health. (Microsoft just launched its own fitness platform and accompanying wearable device hours ago.) Nintendo has to be betting on its ability to differentiate with software, and that enough users will care about the "non-wearable" stipulation for its efforts to stand out in the crowd.