– Tom Heath
When one goes looking at patents filed by individuals or companies, you come across some strange stuff. For example, in 1984 some guy patented the rocket powered surfboard. That is a thing.
Sometimes new patents can give you an idea of the direction a company may be heading with their products, while other times they’re just concepts that are never realised in the exact form specified and are just part of a greater whole.
Regardless, I think we can take one thing away from some October 2014 patents filed by Nintendo, discovered this past weekend on NeoGaf: Nintendo wants to watch us sleep.
The patent describes a “portable device” which acts as a terminal to receive “sensor information”. Said information is described to be (but presumably not limited to) “sound information which is detected by a microphone, or image information which is captured by a camera.”
What does this device want to do with this “sensor information”? The patent says it wants to use it for “assessing a user’s emotions.”
And it gets better: another patent which looks to be part of the same device shows it is designed to read information in your sleep, which it describes as “biological information” and gives your pulse rate as an example. It then uploads this data to Nintendo’s servers for analysis and returns with a “sleep score” that is projected onto the ceiling, presumably for when you wake up.
The patents are unclear as to whether this portable device is an accessory for a user’s mobile phone or if it includes the mobile phone-like device included in the pictures.
Nintendo has previously spoken, albeit vaguely, about their plans to move into the mobile market and introduce a “quality of life” line of products. How, or even if, this initiative will affect Nintendo’s future gaming systems remains to be seen, but I personally can’t help but feel a bit unsettled by this kind of product.
I mean, I’ve used apps before that analyse my sleep in order to wake me up at better times, but that was just my phone’s gyro-sensor locally assessing me tossing and turning. That information, to my knowledge, wasn’t going anywhere else and it certainly wasn’t a microphone and camera observing me in my bedroom.
Of course, we have to wait to discover more and see just exactly how this technology will be implemented before we go into a full on panic. But for now, just stick to the games Nintendo, please? I’ll be your friend.