Nintendo Labo

So, Nintendo just announced this new Labo project for the Switch. It’s cardboard building kits that you interact with through the Switch in various ways. I’m not sure I describe it well, so I’ll just post the 3-minute video here:

Trailer/Video (YouTube)

This is so perfectly directed at my family that I’m probably not objective about it; it feels to me like they’re going to make a billion dollars. We already have a Switch, and my boys (6 & 8) love building and machinery stuff. If nothing else, it takes care of birthday ideas for them in the spring :).

The two kits they showed are $70 and $80, which seems reasonable for a game + building kits package, when normal retail for their games is $60.

Certainly interesting, if nothing else I’ll give Nintendo points for innovation.

Looks cool as hell. Wonder how well they work or how much play time they hold up to.

Apparently they’re going to make the templates available online, so people can make their own kits if they prefer, or easily make a replacement if a piece breaks. Seems like a good idea, and people would probably post the plans right away anyway.

I just thought if they opened this up to a dev kit it would be awesome. I could see some kind of programming platform and a cable to flash a blank cartridge and some tools for creating the cardboard templates…

First Wii, now Labo… Why does Nintendo keep naming products after genitalia?!

Yeah, developers could do some wild things with this. That piano is essentially a custom 13-button controller, and must not cost very much to manufacture. Developers could make whatever custom input they need.

Labo is just short for, as you probably guessed, Laboratory. Japanese frequently shorten words because words take forever to say and time is precious. :stuck_out_tongue:

Looks fun but I wonder how durable those cardboard kits would be in the hands of children. Wouldn’t plastic have made more sense ?

I think cardboard was actually the right move, because it makes it easier to make replacements, and gives more of a feel of “building from scratch”. Most people don’t have the tools in their own homes for working plastic, but they do have the tools for working cardboard.

I have to wonder about the internals of those constructions, though. Ultimately, the keys of that piano must be hooked up to something electronic, somehow. How?

According to an article I read it uses the camera built into one of the controllers. The Labo frame holds the controller in place where the camera can view images that are on the back side of the piano keys. When it sees the image it plays the sound. Same system also allows it to view knobs/etc that can change the pitch & adjust the sound.

This is bizarrely genius. I’m sure it will get wildly mocked (a quick perusal of Twitter confirms this). I also think they will make yet another fortune off of it.

Agreed though, if they open this up to more devs or amateur coding…possibilities could be enormous.

I think it was mentioned that the cardboard “keys” have a reflective material that sticks to the back of them, when you press them they reflect a signal back to the joy cons and they interpret a position from that and know which key was pressed.

It is a fascinating idea, I’m sure my two kids will be interested and there is no reason why this can’t be opened up to other developers. They create a cardboard template for download and construction and provide a download “game” or utility to accompany it. You could certainly see a load of relevant DLC.

[eta - ninja’d]

Looks like the LEGO Mindstorms stuff, only much more “one and done.”

Back before the Switch was announced, and people were speculating about it, there were a bunch of Nintendo patents floating around. One of them was this idea for a peripheral/controller that worked through a camera on the main device watching its internals. People were speculating that this would be how the controllers themselves would work, but this Labo system is exactly that idea. If it really works, it’s great; you can make whatever cheap peripherals you want, without any electronic components at all.

That is bizarrely ingenious. I guess that it needs some sort of light source inside of the boxes, then? What’s battery life like?

Super ingenious - I love it! Nintendo thinking way outside the (cardboard) box again.

Some more details here:

It’s actually an infrared camera on the controller with IR reflective stickers on the piano keys, etc. Basically an updated version of the same tech they’ve used since the Wii. The Joycons have a fairly solid 20 hours of battery in normal use, my guess is this camera and IR emitter doesn’t take much extra juice. Nobody has tried the Labo in real life, only in Nintendo controlled demos though so we will see.

The more I think about it the more I think this is a brilliant move. The genius of this idea is that it is targeted at least as much at parents as children as mentioned in the OP.

I think there is a critical mass of parents who:
a) have nostalgic memories of playing Nintendo games
b) are nevertheless worried that their kids spend too much time on screens instead of “real world” stuff
c) are always looking for fun activities to bond with their kids.

Labo is perfectly tailored for such parents while at the same time helping sell Switch consoles and also creating a new gaming platform which, once it gets going, will be difficult for competitors to rival. It would be diabolical if the underlying product weren’t so fun and clever !

I was thinking the same thing. Seems to me those cardboard pieces will not last long at all.

Oh, and in addition to providing downloadable templates for the cardboard pieces, I’ll bet you they also make STL files available for them, for 3D printing. So you can have it in plastic if you really want to.