Back in the ‘80s, Nintendo’s renewed commitment to quality games helped the company rebuild the crashed video game market with the NES, but now that consoles basically print money, the company seems less worried about what ends up on its hardware. A new $10 app promises to turn your Switch into a motion-detecting spy alarm—just don’t set your expectations too high.
Nintendo didn’t really promote the feature when the Switch originally launched, but when the cardboard Labo kits were released it was revealed that each Joy-Con controller featured an infrared camera that could detect the presence of light that was invisible to human eyes. It’s what made many of those wacky cardboard creations work, and it’s how the upcoming Spy Alarm promises to keep an eye out for intruders.
You’re probably not familiar with a game developer called Sabec, but if you follow Switch gaming news you undoubtedly saw reports of a $10 scientific calculator app recently being released for the console. It was developed by the same people behind Spy Alarm, which is expected to hit the Switch’s app store on May 27.
The app’s functionality looks rather basic. You place one of your Joy-Cons on a flat, stable surface and point it “towards the area you want to protect.” If someone breaks the invisible beam emitted by the Joy-Con, the app will sound an alarm and log the incident by time. The app features sensitivity adjustments, but with a range of around 39 inches it doesn’t actually sound like that sensitive of a security solution. If an intruder is wearing bright or highly reflective clothing, the range is improved, but how often do you see spies or burglars in the movies suiting up in neon yellow tracksuits?
There’s also the issue that the Switch has to be turned on and actively running the Spy Alarm app for it to keep an eye out for intruders. That alone is a dead giveaway, and unless you’re within range of the alarm, it’s not able to send notifications to a mobile device like proper security equipment can. Unless you’re in it for the novelty, you’re better off putting that $10 toward a $30 motion-sensing security camera that keeps an eye out for you while you’re still able to play New Pokémon Snap.