When Nintendo announced its plans for a next-generation video game console in late April, I wondered if we could unequivocally declare that the Wii Vitality Sensor was vaporware. The answer, according to Nintendo Chief Executive Satoru Iwata, is no.
In a question-and-answer on Nintendo’s website (via Eurogamer), Iwata explains that the Wii Vitality Sensor is very much a work in progress. The problem, he said, is that only 80 percent of test users felt that the sensor naturally detected their biological information. Nintendo doesn’t want to release a product until 99 percent of users feel comfortable. Iwata said “it is difficult to overcome this hurdle,” and wouldn’t commit to a launch date.
It’s still unclear exactly how the Wii Vitality Sensor would be used, anyway. Nintendo introduced the concept — a small peripheral that slips over the user’s finger and connects to a Wii remote — in mid-2009. The sensor would detect the player’s heart rate and perhaps help the player relax, but Nintendo didn’t announce any specific games or applications. A few months later, Nintendo’s creative guru Shigeru Miyamoto still wouldn’t explain what you might do with the Vitality Sensor. Since then, Nintendo has been fairly quiet on the matter, scrapping plans to discuss the product at E3 2010.
With a new console planned for 2012, the window for the Wii Vitality Sensor to be a game-changer is quickly shrinking. I remain skeptical that we’ll ever see this product as we know it on store shelves, and unless Nintendo incorporates the Vitality Sensor into its next console, at the most it will be a minor addition to an outdated home gaming system.