Nintendo’s just filed a patent for a new device which could propel it back to the forefront of the technology industry.
Since 2012, the iconic Japanese brand has lost ground to Microsoft and Sony in the video game market. Its latest product - the Nintendo Wii U - has failed to sell anything like the amount of units as the Wii, which, in 2011, outsold both the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3.
To compound its troubles even further, Satoru Iwata’s tragic death earlier this year saw the company lose its most charismatic, influential leader, and someone who had been central to the development of a number of its recent consoles.
Yet Nintendo is looking to bounce back quickly with a series of products outside of its traditional video game remit. While the information we currently have isn’t completely reliable - the patent applications were unearthed by a NeoGaf user - they seem to show that Nintendo is planning a project related to its ‘Quality of Life’ (QoL) initiative.
Described as an ‘enigma’ and ‘a riddle’ by Forbes contributor Paul Tassi, the QoL program is an ambitious one. The first product, as described by ARS Technica, will be a sleep sensor which will record our movements, breathing patterns and heart rate. After collecting this data, Nintendo will pump it to its cloud servers where it will be analyzed and used to make recommendations for how the user can rest better.
The patent application in question, however, is for a different product. And while most of the description is in Japanese, there’s a short abstract in English, with Forbes claiming that it looks as if ‘it turns sleep into something like a video game.’
Here’s the abstract:
“This information processing system comprises a portable terminal. The portable terminal detects sensor information for assessing a user’s emotions. It would be permissible, as an example, for the sensor information to be sound information which is detected by a microphone, or image information which is captured by a camera. The information processing system assesses the user’s emotions on the basis of the sensor information. The portable terminal detects the sensor information in a period when the said portable terminal is in a standby state. As an example, the said standby state is a state wherein a display of the portable terminal is off.”
You can also see a picture of the device through this link.
Whether the product Nintendo finally release looks like this remains to be seen - they did say that they would only release more information about QOL products until 2016 - but the sketch alone will be enough to prove to people that Nintendo's plans don't just revolve around the video game industry anymore.