Report: Nintendo Cancels Its Sleep-Tracking Device, Plans Smaller Switch For Fall

Illustration for article titled Report: Nintendo Cancels Its Sleep-Tracking Device, Plans Smaller Switch For Fall

A new report on Nintendo from Japan’s Nikkei newspaper has some details about the future of Nintendo Switch hardware, as well as the future (or lack thereof) of its proposed entry into the health device market.

Here’s the three major takeaways from the report, which we should stress are not official comments from Nintendo but based on the Nikkei’s investigations.

1. Nintendo is out of the quality-of-life health device business.

In 2014 and 2015, Nintendo said it would apply its unique design philosophy to the growing trend of personal health monitoring devices. Specifically, it said it would attempt to leapfrog the trend of “wearable” devices like Apple Watch and FitBit and introduce a “non-wearable” device that would give you feedback on your health by monitoring your sleep.


Nintendo put the device on indefinite hold in 2016, but the Nikkei now says that in December 2018, Nintendo contacted major parts manufacturers to tell them that they were exiting the health business entirely.

2. Nintendo plans to release a smaller, cheaper, more portable Switch model this fall.

Following on the initial report from the Wall Street Journal last month, Nikkei too confirms that Nintendo plans to put out a smaller Switch that is geared more towards portable play. The intriguing detail from the report: While the main use case of the device is for playing portably outside the home, Nikkei says it can still be connected to a television.

3. Nintendo has pushed back the development timeline of the more powerful new Switch model.

Again, as the Journal reported last month, Nintendo is said to have two new Switch models in the works: the low-end one meant more for portability, and a higher-end refresh of the current hardware form factor. The timeline for the release of the latter is said to have been pushed back, given ongoing issues in development. “It’s not clear who is in charge of the concept design,” a source told Nikkei.


So what does this all mean? It’s likely that Nikkei at least has the broad strokes of the story correct—that the health-monitoring product is well and truly done for and a smaller Switch is imminent. But it could be fuzzy on the details, like the release window or the functionality of that hardware. Kotaku has contacted Nintendo for comment.

Features Editor, Kotaku. Japanese curry aficionado. Author of the books Power-Up: How Japanese Video Games Gave the World an Extra Life and Final Fantasy V from Boss Fight Books.

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I’m always wary of Nikkei, as they have a tendency to throw just about any “tip” on the wall. But their report on the smaller Switch would make sense. If you take out either the portability or the dockability of the Switch— the main attraction of the console— it’s just not a Switch anymore. They didn’t consolidate their home console and portable markets just so they can split them up again.

But nothing wrong with putting more emphasis on the portability.