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Nintendo has filed a patent for a new sleep-tracking device that will monitor how well you slept, and even produce pleasing aromas.
In typical Nintendo fashion, the device would represent a new take on the growing sleep-tracking market with a host of novel features. According to the patent, the device could beam soothing images to your ceiling using an in-built projector (counting sheep mini-game, anyone?), along with the tracking information from your previous night’s slumber.
Perhaps most intriguing, though, is the device’s ability to produce a variety of smells to help either induce or disturb your beauty sleep. Sleep mists aren’t exactly new, and diffusers have become a common sight in most households, but if Nintendo has discovered that we all sleep better when a room is filled with the smell of Mario’s freshly washed dungarees, then we’re all for it.
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The mobile device, which sits in a base station by your bed, also includes a Doppler sensor that can pick up your breathing, pulse and body movement. It has a detachable element (which looks like a phone) that will track your activity over the course of the day and sync the data back to the base station if it’s close by.
The patent was filed last September and was recently made public (thanks, Japanese Nintendo). The sleep-tracking device might never come to fruition, of course, but clearly Nintendo believes it’s an idea that’s worth protecting.
Switch it up
Nintendo has been very clear about its ambition to enter the health-related space. During the Wii U era, Nintendo revealed it was working on a ‘quality-of-life’ peripheral, but nothing has surfaced since that initial announcement which was more than five years ago.
Nintendo has had great success with its fitness-focused game Ring Fit Adventure and the Nintendo Switch in general, but this patent points at an entirely new piece of hardware that serves a specific purpose.
Sleep like a Snorlax
Nintendo’s new patent isn’t the only sleep-tracking device we’ve heard about recently from the video games industry. The Pokémon company also announced its own sleep-tracking app, Pokémon Sleep, which would link up with its incredibly popular mobile app, Pokémon Go. The app would require a new Pokémon Go Plus accessory, and users would place it next to their pillow each night. However, no further details have been revealed since its announcement in 2019.
- Gotta catch 'em all – How to play Pokémon Go from home
Rumors have been circling for a while now that a Nintendo Switch Pro is in the works. However, contrary to belief, a Switch Pro certainly won't be releasing this year as Nintendo has officially confirmed that a new Switch isn't coming in 2020.
But that's not to say we won't see a new Nintendo Switch in the future.
While we technically seen two new Switch devices release in 2019 – the Switch with longer battery and the handheld Nintendo Switch Lite – we're still expecting Nintendo to have another, more premium, Switch up its sleeve.
This new Switch (or Switch Pro) would boast upgraded hardware in comparison to the original Nintendo Switch, potentially offering better graphics and processing power, among other improved features – although it's been suggested this upgrade won't be as extensive as we'd like to see.
With Nintendo not even confirming the existence of a Switch Pro, and the company ruling out a 2020 release for any new Switch, when would be a likely release window? And, if the rumors are true, what features would this new Switch likely offer? While we wait for more definitive answers, let's run through the likely (and unlikely) possibilities below.
Last year, Nintendo released two new Switch devices: the Switch Lite and the Nintendo Switch with improved battery life. However, we're still expecting the House of Mario to have yet another new Nintendo Switch up its sleeve.
A Wall Street Journal report has suggested that – in addition to these new devices – there's also a premium Nintendo Switch console on the way: potentially a Switch Pro. While we're treating these rumors with caution, the report did correctly predict the release of the Switch Lite, adding more weight to this speculation. But when could we see this new Switch?
Several reports claimed that we would be seeing a new Switch this year, however Nintendo has officially shut down these rumors. Nintendo's CEO Shuntaro Furukawa has said that there are "no plans to launch a new Nintendo Switch model during 2020."
That means we're pretty much in the dark about when a Switch Pro will arrive but we're hoping for a release date sometime next year.
Obviously redesigns cost money, and redesigns with improved hardware doubly so. We're fully expecting the Switch Pro, with its updated hardware, to cost considerably more than the current Switch's £279/ $ 299/AU$ 469 pricing.
In addition, the Switch Lite isn't exactly cheap. The handheld Switch costs $ 199.99/£199.99/AU$ 329.95, which isn't too far off the original's price – and that's with less features than the original.
Dr Toto suggested a price tag of $ 399, which seems a good estimate. After all, the PS4 Pro is $ 100 more than the PS4. The price mark up takes into account the improved hardware without being prohibitive. However, this is Nintendo we're talking about, and we wouldn't be surprised to see a Switch Pro cost a tad more than that.
Nintendo may not have officially announced the Switch Pro, but we've gathered all the biggest news and rumors surrounding the new Nintendo Switch right here for your perusal.
No 4K or performance upgrades? – Debunked
On Korean site Clién's community forums (via Wccftech), a poster named Cathedral Knight claimed that the Switch Pro will launch in Q4 2020 but will not boast 4K and upgraded performance as expected.
Instead of moving to an upgraded version of Tegrax1 +GPU, the post claims Nintendo will work with Nvidia to create a custom processor based on Volta. In other words, not much will actually improve with the Switch Pro, it may just be a little faster.
However, Nintendo has since shut down rumors that a new Switch will release in 2020 – meaning we can probably assume the claims about performance are also untrue.
Production rumored to start as soon as April – Debunked
A report by Taiwan newspaper DigiTimes claimed that mass production on a new Switch will start "at the end of first-quarter 2020"- with the console itself releasing in mid-2020. However, as we've pointed out, Nintendo has ruled out a 2020 release date.
No Switch Pro in 2019
At a press briefing for the announcement of the Switch Lite, Nintendo president Doug Bowser revealed that we wouldn't be seeing another new Switch model in 2019, according to CNET.
"[The Nintendo Switch Lite will] be the only new Nintendo Switch hardware this holiday, as Bowser says the larger Switch won't get an upgrade right now," CNET wrote.
However, Bowser's comments suggested an upgraded Switch model is on the way, perhaps a Switch Pro?
Two new Nintendo Switch devices
A Wall Street Journal report suggests that Nintendo is working on two individual Switch variants that, rather than making the current Nintendo Switch obsolete, would put it in the middle of a range growing to suit all budgets.
According the publication's sources, the first of these new devices will be aimed at budget gamers, and will see the Switch presented in a more traditional handheld-first format. It'll replace removable Joy-Cons with fixed ones, and ditch their HD Rumble feature in order to bring costs down. This was confirmed with the announcement of the Nintendo Switch Lite.
The second new version of the Nintendo Switch, going by the rumor, is a little harder to pin down, but would be a premium version of the console with "enhanced features targeted at avid videogamers." That's not to suggest it would be aiming for 4K or HDR visuals, but would more likely have features and services baked in that would accommodate the modern obsession with streaming to platforms like Twitch.
The confirmation of the Switch Lite adds some weight to this report and could mean we will see another new premium Switch console at a future date.
The 5.0 firmware dig
Though the Nintendo Switch’s 5.0 firmware update wasn’t up to much on the surface, hackers on Switchbrew dug into the upgrade in 2019 and found evidence which suggests a hardware refresh is in the works.
Switchbrew discovered references to a new T214 chip (which would be a small improvement on the current T210) as well as an updated printed circuit board and 8GB of RAM instead of the current 4GB. This T214 is likely what was used in the Switch Lite and improved battery Switch, but we're expecting the Switch Pro to have even further hardware improvements that will push the devices overall performance.
AR and VR support
VR and AR support for the Switch never looked likely, with the MD of Nintendo France citing a lack of mainstream appeal for the technology back in 2018, but the Labo VR Kit shows Nintendo has changed its mind about the viability of VR.
The Switch doesn't have the high resolution of most VR gaming rigs, so we could see an advanced model with 2K or 4K resolution to improve those close-up VR experiences. However, given the VR Kit is still focused mainly on children, we'd be surprised to see a visual overhaul simply for this one peripheral.
What about 3D?
Another Nintendo patent came to light in early 2019: this time for a 3D sensor array that sits above your television, and creates a stereoscopic image in a similar way to the 3DS, meaning you wouldn't even need glasses.
3D visuals felt like a passing gimmick even with Nintendo's handheld consoles – and the troubled Microsoft Kinect camera will no doubt keep it wary of unnecessary TV peripherals. But getting convincing 3D imaging on standard 2D TVs may the step needed to bring 3D gaming mainstream.
Could it support 4K?
While Sony and Microsoft push at the 4K market, there isn’t really any big reason for Nintendo, the company that staunchly sets itself apart from other hardware producers, to follow suit.
In the same interview where he dismissed VR, Nintendo France General Manager Philippe Lavoué also brushed off 4K saying that the technology has “not been adopted by the majority” and it would, therefore, be too early for Nintendo to jump in.
Nintendo didn’t enter the HD console market until 2012 when it released the Wii U. This was around four years after Sony and Microsoft and at the point when more than 75% of US households actually had HD displays in their home.
Miyamoto however has said he wished Nintendo had done the jump to HD sooner than this, saying that the display technology became popular around three years before Nintendo expected it to. It's expected that by 2020, 50% of US households will have adopted 4K technology and it might be at this point that Nintendo decides to join the 4K fray, rather than waiting until the 75% market saturation of before.
Whisperings of a new Nintendo Switch Pro have been gaining more traction in recent months as more and more leaks begin to appear online. While some have potentially been too good to be true, like that Switch Pro production will start in the next few months, we're hoping the most recent rumor isn't true.
Instead of moving to an upgraded version of Tegrax1 +GPU, Nintendo will apparently work with Nvidia to create a custom processor based on Volta. In other words, not much will actually improve with the Switch Pro, it may just be a little faster.
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Let's hope not
Now, let us remind you that this is a rumor and the poster goes on to claim that this custom processor currently isn't ready for mass production – contradicting the previous rumor we heard about the Switch Pro going into mass production in coming months.
While it's been claimed this poster is a reliable source of leaking information, we aren't so sure. We couldn't find any evidence suggesting this is the case, but that's not to say they're completely unreliable, just that – as with every rumor – we should treat it with a suitable amount of speculation.
In addition, we can't imagine Nintendo releasing a Switch Pro that simply worked a little faster – we would be very disappointed if that was the case and so would a lot of fans. It also doesn't line up with previous rumors that this new Switch would be "premium".
We're hoping Nintendo sheds some light on the rumored Switch Pro in the coming months, but we also hope it boasts more hardware upgrades than this.
- Read more: Is a Nintendo Switch Pro really happening?