After announcing the Wii Vitality Sensor, Nintendo hasn’t said much about the accessory other than its still in development. A Nintendo filed patent application we found shines some light on what kind of games we may see for it.
First, let’s take a look at how the Vitality Sensor works.
The Vitality Sensor fires a light beam on one end and has a photodetector on the other. Hemoglobin, an oxygen transport protein found in red blood cells, absorbs some amount of infrared light since a player’s finger is in between the light source and photodetector. A person’s pulse rate goes up under stress, which increases blood flow, and the concentration of hemoglobin in a fingertip. That means more hemoglobin and less infrared absorption on the photodetector side. If you’re calm, your blood flow rate should be lower as well as the amount of hemoglobin in your finger tip, which means the photodector will absorb more infrared light.
The Vitality Sensor measures a player’s "relax fluid" this is calculated by measuring a cardiac cycle (R wave to R wave) over 100 pulses. Similar to a Brain Age, this number can be compared to the relax fluid of same aged persons.
Nintendo’s patent application mentions a stretch game where players tilt the remote up and down to move a character. While you’re moving flying character players have to adjust their breathing to match the ceiling’s dips and drops.
The character automatically moves as the screen scrolls to the right. When you inhale you fire the smiling blob’s hat up towards the ceiling. It drops when you exhale. The game uses the Vitality Sensor to identify inhales and exhales. An increase in heart rate means a player inhaled. A decrease means an exhale. The height of the ceiling adjusts to a players breathing too, it changes to get players into a more relaxing breathing pattern.
While the blob flies players need to tilt the remote to make its body dive up or down. If you touch the ceiling or floor you lose points.
At the end of the stretch game, players see the amount of relax fluid they had before playing and after. Since the goal of the game is to increase the amount of relax fluid it should go up along with parasympathetic nervous system activity.
Awhile ago we also discovered a Nintendo filed trademark for Wii Relax. Could this stretch game be part of Wii Relax?