Well the Vitality Sensor came out of nowhere at last years E3, no one expected an announcement like it nor expected Nintendo to delve any further into health related gaming/monitoring. A lot of speculation about the Vitality Sensor started with plain jane horror games designed to scare you when your relaxed etc by just monitoring your heart rate/pulse. But what more could this device be? Well, the only way in which we can gain some sort if idea is to actually look at what the health industry does with finger monitors. This is all speculation as to what the Vitality Sensor can do as, as far as we know no one has ever had a hands on with the device therefore we cannot attain what the device can do or does when attached to a finger.

There are 3 ways in which I have found the finger is used to monitor one’s health or said Vitality. These 3 ways are Blood Pressure, Pulse or Heart Rate and Oxygen Saturation.

First of all, Blood Pressure;
Blood pressure (BP) is the pressure exerted by circulating blood on the walls of blood vessels, and is one of the principal vital signs. During each heartbeat, BP varies between a maximum (systolic) and a minimum (diastolic) pressure. The mean BP due to pumping by the heart and resistance in blood vessels, decreases as the circulating blood moves away from the heart through arteries Courtesy of Wikipedia
I’m no medical professional, but from what I can see is reading blood pressure at rest and monitoring changes in this can determine different bodily stress levels. Which could lend itself easily to gaming situations, or imagine actually hooking yourself up to the Wii and it checking your blood pressure and determining that it could be very high or low and advising you to visit your local General Practitioner. It may be slightly scary initially but little health check-up/reminders could be overall beneficial in the long run!

Secondly we have Pulse/Heart Rate. This is the most simplistic tech available for the Vitality Sensor, it in fact already has been used in a clip-on ear monitor for the N64, and is readily used in many health training devices such as treadmills. High exertion or other high levels of panic/shock/fear can cause a heart rate that is at a high level, this again can lead itself to gaming easily enough through the horror genre or the fitness genre by getting you to a certain heart rate and aiming to maintain it.

Last but not least there is also Oxygen Saturation of the blood.
Oxygen saturation or dissolved oxygen (DO) is a relative measure of the amount of oxygen that is dissolved or carried in a given medium. It can be measured with a dissolved oxygen probe such as an oxygen sensor Courtesy of Wikipedia
Through using a Pulse Oximeter, the oxygen saturation of a patient’s blood is indirectly measured and changes in blood volume in the skin, producing a photoplethysmograph.

This is the single application to which I have no idea whatsoever on how it could be applied to gaming. I guess a greater knowledge in the science/health work associated to it is needed but if Nintendo are to include this into their device, I bet they already know how to use it.

Overall if any of these technologies are to be used in the Vitality Sensor I would say it would be 2 of the 3 and specifically the Blood Pressure and Heart Rate. These 2 technologies seem to piggy back with each other and help each other be more accurate for determining the health/physical state of the person being monitored. But be rest assured that Nintendo are making this device for the WiiFit crowd and they will eat it up in drones. Tied to the right software and touted with the right marketing know-how with medical backing to the software it will be the new thing to drive the life of the Wii. One interesting aspect is how the Balance Board and this Vitality Sensor can be used in conjunction with each other in a new style WiiFit.