Wearable Tech World Feature Article
October 30, 2014

Nintendo Plans Foray into Wearable Tech with Sleep Tracker System

Normally, the first thing most people think about when Nintendo is mentioned is a certain iconic plumber and a video game system lineup that goes back decades. But Nintendo has been on the ropes for some time as far as the console wars go, being largely beaten down by Sony and Microsoft's assaults on the field. But now, Nintendo is looking to branch out a bit, teaming up with ResMed Inc. to bring out a new kind of wearable technology that should help in terms of spotting sleeping disorders and issues of fatigue.

The device in question is reportedly the first such release from Nintendo's newly-minted healthcare division, and will be available after March 2016. The device in question is about the size of a human hand, and will be placed on a bedside table. With a series of microwave transmissions, the device can then track sleep patterns, and give users insight into said patterns and habits, which then can be acted upon to produced better such habits. Nintendo's chief executive, Satoru Iwata, noted that Nintendo's “know-how in gaming” could be put to work in a bid to create a more fun means to track sleep and fatigue levels, and the company reportedly expects the healthcare division to turn a profit starting in 2015.

While this certainly offered a note of comfort to Nintendo's investors, a further note stepped in from reports that several new games provided a boost to the struggling Wii U console. With the opening bell of the Tokyo stock exchange, Nintendo shares reportedly climbed 7.7 percent, though gave back most of those gains by the end of the trading session. However, Nintendo did outpace the Nikkei index on the day, according to reports, a development which doubtless proved a welcome one.

One of Iwata's remarks managed to sum up the situation rather nicely, in which he said “We only start something new if we think we will be able to create a big market. But as I'm not able to discuss pricing plans and other details today I don't think there's much point in giving a figure for our projected scale." It may have struck some odd that a game company would branch out into healthcare, but Nintendo has long been a company willing to diversify. It got its start, according to some reports, as a playing card company, which branched out into several other ventures. For Nintendo to branch out into healthcare isn't really a surprise; the so-called “graying” of the population in much of the developing world—in which the average age is increasing, as seen in the United States with the baby boomers—is the kind of thing that's difficult to ignore. Such a population will require quite a bit in healthcare advances, and that's a great place for Nintendo to come in. Indeed, Nintendo has already been seen in the healthcare segment pretty readily with its Wii and Wii U gaming systems that require a lot more movement than the conventional gaming system.

So essentially, this is a logical move for Nintendo for several reasons, and one that should help drive some profitability back into the system. That's a development few companies would refuse outright, and one that should prove quite welcome in the long term. Only time will tell just how well it works in the end, but every little bit helps, and considering Nintendo's recent numbers, every little bit will be just as welcome as it is helpful.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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