Nintendo's next device could watch you while you sleep

Sleep monitors may not be the first type of device you associate with Nintendo -- home of the Wii and the Game Boy -- but a recently filed patent shows the Japanese multinational is indeed planning a move into the health and lifestyle market. This "portable terminal" sits on your bedside table and lets you know just how much quality shut-eye you're getting.

According to the documents, the device (which looks like an alarm clock) would somehow collect "physiological information and/or health information relating to the health or the body of the user, obtained from said physiological information." A microphone, a Kinect-style camera and a sensor of some sort would watch you while you sleep and decide just how restful a night you were having.

Details about the quality of your sleep could then be projected from the device up on the ceiling or the wall -- if you feel terrible waking up in the morning then Nintendo's new gadget will tell you exactly why that is. Collected data could include pulse rate, the patent application says, plus a variety of other "biological information" relating to your nighttime snoozing.

Of course this is just a patent application, so the usual patent caveats apply -- they show some of the ideas getting kicked around inside a company, and they don't necessarily point to actual physical products that will ever go on sale. That said, it's interesting to see Nintendo exploring hardware outside of its traditional remit, and the company has previous stated its intention to go beyond the home entertainment market.

If Nintendo does decide to get into sleep tracking, it faces plenty of competition: Everything from the Jawbone UP3 to the Fitbit Charge can attempt to measure sleep quality for you, and then there are the dedicated devices like the HugOne.