Has it really been four years since the most prolific CEO of Nintendo passed away? Even after all this time, Satoru Iwata's legacy continues to live on in all things Nintendo, with people looking for signs of Nintendo paying homage to their former CEO. Well, I have a theory that the recently announced Pokémon Sleep is actually based on an unfinished project by Satoru Iwata himself.
The plan to raise people’s quality of life
Back in 2014, months before his untimely passing, Iwata had shared that Nintendo will be developing a device that measures a user's fatigue and map their sleep. Though a design nor a product name was announced, Iwata described this device as a "Quality of Life Sensor" that's meant to sit next to a user's bed during sleep. Overnight, the product will visually record "movements of your body, breathing, and heartbeat," then upload resulting data to Nintendo's cloud servers so that a corresponding app can analyze your sleep and offer suggestions for better rest in the future.
"Fatigue and sleep are themes that are rather hard to visualise in more objective ways," Iwata said. "At Nintendo, we believe that if we could visualise them, there would be great potential for many people regardless of age, gender, language, or culture."
It may seem like an odd project for Iwata to take on, considering how he puts himself as a gamer first and foremost, but considering how Nintendo had wanted to make gaming possible for everyone, it's not a stretch to consider that Iwata also cared for everyone's Quality of Life (QOL).
The project was halted in 2016 as Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima stated that "we do not have the conviction that the sleep-and-fatigue-themed [device] can enter the phase of actually becoming a product".
A year later though, Nintendo did reaffirm that the project will be continued thanks to a paragraph nestled at the bottom of the research and development section of its annual report for 2017.
"Our aim is to enable consumers to make daily efforts to improve their QOL in a fun manner by making sleep and fatigue status visible and offering various services based on this information," the report said.
Pokémon Sleep works similar to Iwata’s planned device
No updates on the device has been released since then, but instead the latest Pokémon update includes Pokémon Sleep, a game that's dedicated to make sleeping a form of entertainment. But it's not just the fact that it's an app aiming to help you sleep; there's also a device to monitor it as well.
Pokémon Sleep will utilise a new device being developed by Nintendo called the Pokémon Go Plus Plus. The new device looks like a disc-shaped Pokéball and behaves like the already released Pokémon Go Plus and Pokéball Plus hardware; Pokémon Go players can store a Pokémon inside the device, which will alert players to nearby Pokéstops.
Probably the biggest difference is that the Pokémon Sleep aims to gamify sleep, while also monitoring player’s sleep habits. Of course, the device is not a replacement to the Quality of Life Sensor device that Iwata had in mind, but it's good to see that Iwata's goals in giving people better QOL through better sleep was brought to life through Pokémon Sleep.
After all, we’re all in need of a good night’s rest.