Last month Ubisoft’s biofeedback based relaxation game O.zen was released* in France. Introduced back in 2010 at E3, as the Innergy, at a time when games for health were actively being pushed by the games industry e.g. Nintendo with the Wii Fit and EA with Sports Active. Sadly, the response to the O.zen was pretty lackluster, and not unsurprising given E3 is focused on mainstream games. After E3, there were no further news updates about the O.zen, at least none that I was aware of, and I assumed the project was dead until later on in 2013 when the Innergy was rebranded to O.zen and given a 2014 release date and 2015 when I came across a small-user study of the product.
Back in 2010, the O.zen was designed for desktop use and looked largely complete. The O.zen as released today is mobile only, a smart move given the prevalence of mobile phones and the availability it provides to practice relaxation techniques over a desktop i.e. practice anywhere your phone goes. Given the rise in camera-based pulse-oximetry, it’s sort of surprising to see the use of a dedicated sensor to measure the user’s heartbeat rate, especially a wired sensor, but then again camera-based pulse-oximetry doesn’t provide the most stable of signals nor the most comfortable of user experiences.
After five years of watching O.zen’s development it’s great to see the product finally released and I can’t wait to get my hands on it and try it out. Sadly, O.zen is iOS only, and only supports devices with a Lightning port. As an Android user I guess I’ll keep on waiting, though I’m not confident we’ll see an Android release given O.zen uses a wired sensor rather than a wireless one which means a different manufacturing line. Whether the O.zen will see a wider release outside of France, I don’t know, but fortunately I can read French so at least I have that base covered.
So I guess the dragons are finally coming, just not for me, not yet anyways.
* Required iOS app to be released on the 15th October 2015.