In Early Tests, $US99 Wii Balance Board Outperforms $US17,885 Medical Rig

Another day, another story about some cheap, plastic Wii motion control accessory finding an application outside of gaming. In this case, it's the balance board, and not only this device helping stroke victims recover, it's saving them money, too.

In fact, doctors at the University of Melbourne found that the balance board, normally used for pseudo Yoga or navigating Mii's down a virtual ski slope, was so sensitive it could very well replace traditional laboratory-grade "force platforms" doctors use to assess a patient's balance.

When doctors disassembled the board, they found the accelerometers and strain gauges to be of "excellent" quality. "I was shocked given the price: it was an extremely impressive strain gauge set-up," said lead researcher Ross Clark, in an interview with New Scientist.

Even better, Clark's team has already published a paper that verifies the Wii balance board is "clinically comparable" to the nearly $US18,000 lab force platform. That's great news for many smaller physio clinics that would otherwise be unable to afford the traditional rig. [New Scientist]

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    So Nintendo can sell a piece of kit for $99US, yet the medical supplies industry charges almost $18,000 more for a comparable piece of kit. How come?

    Either the medical supplies industry is incredibly inefficient at designing these things, resulting in high developments costs, or they are gouging hospitals and making unbelievable profits, of somewhere around 18000%.

    Either way the medical supplies industry has some explaining to do. What else are hospitals paying 18000% too much for?

      There is probably something to do with economies of scale? also I would assume medical grade equipment may be of sturdier construction also capable of being sterilized.

    Most medical supplies that get sold into the health system come with a massive surcharge. Just look at the numerous enquires/hearings/etc in most countries about overcharging and fraud.

    Even if you took into account the liability insurance, R&D and industrial engineering that goes into medical supplies, it just doesn't add up. Balance sheets reflect this reality.

    Really, none of this should surprise anyone. People probably would find it surprising if anything actually gets done about it.

    Sad eh.

    I'm sure they sell a lot more Wii Balance Boards than they do medical grade force platforms.

    If you divide the R&D costs by the number of units sold, I'm sure they're pretty comparable.

    Nintendo can afford to sell the boards for USD$99 simply because they sell so many. Further more, they may even sell the hardware at a loss, and make profit from the games.

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