Nintendo is Watching You Sleep

Multinational gaming company Nintendo recently announced they are entering the healthcare business with what they call their QOL Project, or Quality of Life Project. As the name implies, their focus is on increasing user’s quality of life with the first theme being health. The first product is a bedside sleep sensor.

This may be a strange move for Nintendo, however strange moves have worked for Nintendo in the past. Examples are R.O.B. the robot, or even the entire Wii system itself. When you think about it, Nintendo has always been a company to go their own way, and considering Nintendo’s background of playing card manufacturer and even a “love hotel” chain, maybe it’s not that surprising they are entering into the healthcare business.

“Everyone needs sleep, and all of us get tired,” as said in the Nintendo Corporate Management Policy Briefing. It’s no longer a question that sleep, or lack thereof, affects our health in terms of productivity or learning ability. Not only this, sleep deprivation can also lead to more serious health issues such as, heart disease, heart failure, high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, diabetes, depression, accelerated skin aging, forgetfulness, weight gain, develop unhealthy eating habits, increased aggression, and impaired judgment on or off the road.

More specifically, teenagers in high school who experience fatigue nearly everyday with early school start times and late nights of homework (or not), are at increased risk of sleep-related health issues according to “ Six hours of sleep” the amount of sleep one high schooler, Isaac Mazack gets. Most teens surveyed got between 6 and 8 hours a weeknight, whereas teens should be getting anywhere from 8 to 10 hours per night.

One of the main points Nintendo wants to achieve for their sleep sensor is to eliminate the physical aspect to health monitoring by making it non-wearable, meaning no need to attach anything to your body. This would eliminate any discomfort that would come with modern sleep devices. Another point, if we have to remember to put a device on our wrist, or install a device on our bed, or have to remember to set the device on every night, or remember to turn it off in the morning, we would undoubtedly forget occasionally, thus skewing results, in turn resulting in ineffective health monitoring. Visualizing sleep under the “Non” Sensing concept is the first step for Nintendo’s QOL business, and will likely be integrated in future devices as well.

How will this device work? Inside the QOL Sensor will be a non-contact radio frequency sensor, which will measure body movement, breathing, heartbeat, and other vital signs without physically touching your body. The data automatically collected would then be transmitted to the QOL cloud servers, which will then be analyzed and measured by the sensor and visually represent your sleep and fatigue patterns. With your results analyzed services intending to increase your QOL will be proposed, actions such as exercising or changing your diet, relative to your results. As your measurements are calculated every day, you will be able to observe improvements achieved by your actions, and help realize your improved QOL.

Some worry about privacy concerns, cloud server leaks and other issues are all too common. On the Thursday, the 20th of November, Azure (Microsoft’s cloud platform) suffered blackouts resulting in inaccessibility to apps and data (also affected by multiple outages in August). Other cloud issues such as celebrities photo leaks, which are understood to be obtained from services such as Apple iCloud that backs up content from devices to the Internet.

With the cloud being somewhat unreliable, how will Nintendo be able to ensure security, or even access to customer data? Nintendo’s QOL platform will not be fully up and running until 2015 or 2016. Nintendo has a lot of time to fine tune such problems until then, but until then, other than what has been announced in the Nintendo Corporate Management Policy Briefing, no more will likely be said until the tech is actually made.