Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Nintendo announces health platform - skipping wearables, going straight to the smart toilet

While the rest of the world is going wearable-computing-crazy, game maker Nintendo is kicking against the pricks.

It's currently losing money, thanks to the failure of its Wii-U console and its decision not to make games for phones.

So CEO Satoru Iwata is trying to encourage investors to stick with the company by revealing a new initiative - its Quality of Life program.

Iwata hasn't proved any specifics, only to say that over the next 10 years, Nintendo is looking to build a preventative health platform that "improves people’s QOL in enjoyable ways".

"When we talk about 'health,' it often involves measuring something and showing the results, but if we add an application to something, maybe this application would encourage people to continue in an enjoyable way, and we feel that we can use our strengths in this area," he said.

“As those who are already suffering from illness can seek medical care, our new business domain would be providing preventive measures which would require us to enable people to monitor their health and offer them appropriate propositions."

Of course, we're already seeing this with the rise of The Quantifiable Self and wearable computing such as FitBit, Jawbone, Nike+ etc.

But as Iwata makes clear, Nintendo isn't planning to use mobile technology or wearable technology. It's looking to leapfrog these to non-wearable technology, whatever that is.

"I am not planning to announce any specific themes today, but to give you a hint, 'non-wearable' does not necessarily mean it is something that will be used in the living room," Iwata says.

Reading between the lines, then, if Nintendo isn't planning to use phones or wearable computing, it must be looking for sensors that will be more widely integrated into general life, or in this case, through the home.

Perhaps this is currently best seen in devices such as smart scales, but it's not beyond the bounds of possibilities that Nintendo is planning a health-focused home platform that could connect console peripherals such as the Wii Balance Boards with thirdparty devices such as smart scales, smart fridges, smart beds or even smart toilets.

Yeah, you heard it here first. The Nintendo Toilet... Pooping with purpose. After all, Mario is a plumber. 

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