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Nintendo Is Still Dreaming of a Sleep-Focused 'Quality of Life' Device

In recent annual report, the gaming company announced that its bizarre sleep monitor still isn't dead.
Image: Nintendo

Nintendo is fully awake again after years of drowsy sales and ho-hum releases, in part thanks to the excitement over the successful launches for the Nintendo Switch and the NES Classic. Strangely, though, the company is really insistent on getting people to associate it with sleep.

Back in 2014 the legendary gaming company announced it was working on a QOL (Quality of Life) sensor that would sit on your bedstand and monitor your vital signs, such as the movements of your body and heartbeat, while you sleep. The device would then relay the information to cloud servers, and then you'd get a handy report informing you what you'll need to do to catch some more Zs.


Oddly enough, Nintendo seemed content to sleep on it, as we haven't really heard any updates about the device in years. And yesterday, at last, the company reaffirmed the project's existence in a paragraph nestled at the bottom of the research and development section of its annual report for 2017.

"Our aim is to enable consumers to make daily efforts to improve their QOL in a fun manner by making sleep and fatigue status visible and offering various services based on this information," this year's report said.

Image: Nintendo

It may seem like a strange project for a for a gaming company, but the motion technology involved in the sleep QOL device likely springs from the same tech used for the motion-focused Wii and Switch devices. The late Nintendo president Satoru Iwata discussed the company's plans for the device in greater depth back in 2014, claiming that "Nintendo's know-how of hospitality as well as of making people want to continue" would lead people to use the device daily.

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

So far it's been slow going. Nintendo announced in 2016 that it wasn't "currently at a stage where we can commercialize a product that deals with sleep and fatigue," but apparently the dream is still alive.

It's not the first time Nintendo has attempted to make bizarre forays into health technology. Back at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in 2009, the company announced it was working on a "Vitality Sensor," which was basically a finger pulse monitor that you'd attached to your Wii remote.

In 2013, though, the company shuttered the project as testing hadn't been quite as successful as it had hoped.

Who knows? Maybe the new device is actually designed around eventually getting us to play The Legend of Zelda in our dreams. Right now, it's a secret to everybody.