Wii Vitality Sensor: Nintendo didn’t know what to do with it, suggests neuro-technology professor

Thursday, 2 May 2013 12:51 GMT By Dave Cook

Nintendo’s long-absent Vitality Sensor was unveiled at E3 2009 and has since fallen by the wayside. Speaking to the press at the NeuroGaming Conference in San Francisco, professor Roger Quy from neuro-technology firm Technology Partners has shed light on why it may have failed.

Responding to a question about Nintendo’s device from GameBeat’s Dean Takahashi, Quy suggested that mixing fun and therapy can work, but it needs to be both sophisticated and entertaining enough to ensure that it still provides help, rather than a cheap thrill. He added that professional brain training companies are currently boring their patients.

“I think, certainly in the therapeutic area to have something that’s entertaining and fun is a big deal,” he replied. “I think a problem with many of the brain training companies is that they’re just damn boring to use. If you listen to tones for about two hours at a time it’s hard to keep going.

“I think Brain Training [the game] is where we can add in fun and entertainment, whereas the goal at the end of the day is improvement, whether that’s a therapeutic definition – or if you fly under the radar screen of the [US Food and Drug Administration] by just talking about quality of life measures.”

Quy then theorised as to why Nintendo canned its Vitality Sensor, “With regard to the Nintendo sensor, at that time we were trying to start this company that would use pulse sensors, but not just to measure pulse rate – that doesn’t tell you too much.

“You have to be more sophisticated than that if you want to measure things thing arousal, valance or a range of emotions using heart-rate variability. I don’t think Nintendo really knew what to do with that.

“So you measure your heart-rate – so what? Once you’ve measured it a few times … I mean you could always just hold your finger on your pulse. That’s why, again, value out – why use a switch when 40 relays will do?

“That sort of concept has to be useful, so you’re not just designing this in just from the point of view of adding another widget, and not necessarily bringing anything new to the party.”

What do you think about the demise of Nintendo’s Vitality Sensor? Was it a poor idea to begin with, or could it have worked? Let us know below.

Thanks Olly Quinn.