Shrouded in secrecy until next year, speculation continues to swirl around Nintendo NX that is only fuelled further by patents that continue to emerge.
The most recently published was filed in June, presenting an innovative controller that dominated entirely on its front face by an elliptical touchscreen – with room only left on each side for clickable, analog thumbsticks and accompanying shoulder buttons.
There’s also reference to the technology used for the stereoscopic 3D display implemented in the Nintendo 3DS, but the traditional input that Nintendo has always replied upon is instead replaced by context-sensitive virtual buttons placed on the touchscreen.
The patent mentions a “Help Mode,” where the function associated with each thumbstick and virtual button is indicated by a “guide image” overlay – the two inputs working in tandem allowing for quick access keyboard.
Obvious caveats are that the design would risk the image becoming obscured by the user’s thumb, although Nintendo argue that it would ultimately allow for “a higher feeling of immersion.”
But, at its core, the patent looks to address hardware design problems in which space required by input buttons to be placed next to the screen can often see the product become larger than intended.
It’s a fascinating read, but, as with many patents, Nintendo may never deem it to be suitable for the mass market. Still, there are certainly elements here that they can carry forward and a concept that they wanted to ensure remained protected from competitors.