Nintendo’s Wii was the first console to really bring the idea of making video games a physical experience to a mass consumer audience. Launched in 2006, it let you wiggle, wave and wobble with the premise that Wii Sports was boosting your fitness. Years later, this concept has spread and numerous gaming companies have adopted this purported game’n’get fit ethos. Think XBox Kinect and PlayStation Move.
Now the company is looking to expand their reach of the junior gamer market with the launch of the Fit Meter pedometer, which works with the Wii Fit. The pedometer isn’t particularly high tech- it counts steps, motion and altitude, but that’s part of its charm. It’s strictly functional, and it takes the indoor gaming sphere into a whole new dimension - that of real life. The pedometer syncs via Bluetooth to the Wii Fit U via the Wii U GamePad, and will update your “Mii” to give a clearer picture of your fitness activity when playing and NOT playing the Wii.
Once your daily activity data is inside the Wii’s Miiverse, you can calculate information about your fitness, join the Miiverse Gym Community and gain support from other users. Or compete.
"Wii Fit U is all about 'fun fitness' for everyone in the family," said Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America’s president and COO.
Sure, gaming is fun, and adding more data to the field helps you tailor your experience more thoroughly. But will it actually make you fitter?
Competitive playing online can lead to competitive step monitoring and tracking, the gamification of real life if you will. This in turn can lead itself to being incorporated in all sorts of ways, from allowing doctors to have a better sense of your actual activity to integrating with stores like Walgreens to give you reward points and/or health benefits.
This is not the market the Fit Meter is looking at… yet.
Another interesting element about the Wii’s Fit Meter is their target market. Though the console is suitable for all ages, games such as Pokemon primarily make it a “kid” console, and fitness tracking and children is an area that hasn’t had a huge amount of attention. Adults are used to gadgets such as the FitBit, which tracks your daily fitness activity and wirelessly syncs it to your account, or the Jawbone UP which does a similar thing, but these price points tend to dissuade kids from making use of them.
With an affordable pedometer - the Fit Meter is currently priced at $19.99 for its November 1st launch date - it makes it a lot easier to invest in a fitness tracker for kids, and a new way of monitoring what they’re actually doing. The Fit Meter may not be as complex as the Zamzee- an activity tracker that’s aimed at the youth market- but with the Nintendo name behind it, it’s pretty likely to get a large uptake. Plus kids will WANT to wear it. Forget arguing over scary monitoring apps, here’s a way to check children’s activity on a daily basis and have them more than willing to participate.
The Fit Meter is not the most exciting product that Nintendo is releasing this year - the new form factor of their 2DS easily gets that ribbon - but it garners your full attention.
In terms of potential and wearable technology integration in the youth market, this could be killer. Watch this space.