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Nintendo to Tackle mHealth with new Non-Wearable Platform

Nintendo wants to expand into healthcare with a new, non-wearable platform.

With its Wii U console performing poorly in sales, video game company Nintendo held a briefing for investors today and announced its plans to enter the quality of life (QOL) market with a new platform aimed at healthcare and promoting wellness. “Our QOL-improving platform will attempt to create an environment in which we can expand the population of those who are conscious about their health and use that expansion to expand Nintendo’s user base,” Nintendo's CEO Satoru Iwata said.

Nintendo's new strategy is to create a non-wearable healthcare platform that intregrates seamlessly into users' daily lives.
What will be most notable about this platform is that it will be non-wearable, effectively leap frogging the trend toward mobile and wearable devices into what Nintendo views as the next stage in personal healthcare management. “Following others into the exceedingly crowded market of mobile applications or the market of wearable technology that is expected to become increasingly competitive and fighting with brute force is not our way of doing business,” Iwata said. “ We wish to achieve an integrated hardware-software platform business that, instead of providing mobile or wearable features, will be characterized by a new area of what we like to call 'non-wearable' technology.”
Iwata said that the new platform will be a both a software and hardware solution and would go in a similar direction as and build upon Nintendo's popular Wii Fit, which promoted physical activity through gaming by requiring players to actually move around their living rooms to play a variety of games including tennis, bowling, and boxing. “As those who are already suffering from illness can seek medical care, our new business domain would be providing preventive measures which would require us to enable people to monitor their health and offer them appropriate propositions,” Iwata said.
Nintendo believes that its strengths as a gaming company first and foremost will give it a leg up on competitors in creating user engagement over the long term. While many device makers have looked at “gamification” as a solution to patient engagement, the issue has never been tackled by a company that considers itself a game maker first and foremost. Talking about creating an engaging user experience Iwata said, “If we do indeed succeed in doing so, we will be able to provide feedback to our consumers on a continual basis, and our approach will be to redefine the notion of health-consciousness, and eventually increase the fit population.”
The company didn't reveal any hardware specifics about the platform or its software applications. However, given Nintendo's record with creating state-of-the-art near-field communications technology (as evidenced by its Wii U controller) and the video game industry's rapid push toward hands-free controllers and voice activated technology, it will be interested to see how the term “non-wearable” is interpreted.
Nintendo expects this new business to be launched in April 2015.
 -Chris Wiltz, Associate Editor, MD+DI
[email protected] 
Learn about the latest topics in "Maximizing Opportunites in eHealth and Consumerization" at MD&M West. Feb 10-14, 2014.
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