"Relax fluid". What is it? The phrase inspired two very different schools of thought in this morning's meeting. Nathan questioned whether Nintendo's apparently-still-in-development-zzz-wha-we-forgot-all-about-it-wait-they're-seriously-still-doing-that peripheral would come packaged with a watered-down morphine solution. I myself just thought of the product of an evening's shameful self-dehydration.
But whether opiate, the squandered fuel of a new generation, or something else entirely, relax fluid is what's going to be powering the games you play with the Wii Vitality Sensor. Assuming you'll play any. Which you probably won't after reading the rest of this.
Essentially one of those finger-clipped heart rate monitors you get plugged into during a stay in Accident and Emergency (way to keep the cross-generational bond of video games going, Nintendo. Oh the fun we'll have reminiscing over granny's bypass as we stick it on her finger after Christmas dinner), I'm still not entirely convinced the relaxation-powered Vitality Sensor isn't a clever bit of bait-and-switch self-parody by Nintendo, satirising all that's worst about Wii gaming by way of a control scheme requiring the player literally to do nothing.
Self-reflexive joke or not, we now have a clearer view of how it works, via a patent application just unearthed by those sexy folks over at Siliconera. Apparently it measures blood flow by firing a high-powered laser/small light beam (delete as appropriate to your desperation to be excited by this) through the player's finger. A light sensor on the opporite side of the magic thimble works out how much of the beam is being blocked by the haemoglobin between the two. And because stress = higher pulse rate, the Wii then knows how relaxed the player is.
Above: Relax fluid. This guy is full of it. Positively dripping with it
The rating used by the VS to quantifiably guage a person's relaxation rate is, rather unfortunately, dubbed "relax fluid", and can be used in a manner similar to Nintendo's brain age rating to compare yourself to others. So soon whole families will be able to competetively evaluate their fluids in a safe, fun and educational environment. The scripts for the TV ads are going to be incredible.
As for games? So far, we have this:
YEEEEEAAAAAAH! Right? Yeah? No? Well how about if it does this:
Basically, a little wok/spaceship/jellyfish has to navigate a bunch of curvy tunnels (possibly full of relax fluid) without hitting the sides. You use the Wii remote to angle his path, and THE ALMIGHTY POWER OF YOUR VERY LIFE-BREATH to make his hat rise and fall. Breathing in means up, breathing out means down. For some reason. Apparently the curves of the tunnels are rendered to encourage a relaxed breathing pattern. It might simply promote what practitioners of basic meditation have been doing for thousands of years for free, but hey, it has rudimentary visual feedback, so bargain, right?
Thanks Nintendo. Oh how we hope our suspicions of this thing's quiet cancellation are wrong.