Three patent applications by Nintendo in the United States earlier this year have now been published online, which corroborate with reports that Nintendo NX will be a portable console with detachable controllers.
The first patent covers “a portable game apparatus including a display and a camera provided behind the display.” This allows an image captured by the camera to then be displayed on the display, with the patent covering multiple configurations as to how the device may be used.
This partly overlaps with the next patent, which seeks to improve on “conventional portable game devices including a display and a camera (image-capturing device) provided on the back side of the display. These game devices obtain a captured image in response to a shutter operation by the user to analyze a characteristic portion of the captured image obtained and to display, on the display, an image obtained by superimposing a virtual character over the captured image based on the analysis results.”
To me at least, that suggests that Nintendo could once again tread into augmented reality in ways that we saw them experiment on Nintendo 3DS. It was never something that they had truly explored, and that may be because they felt that the technology wasn’t at a point that it could let their creativity flourish.
Of most interest is the last patent application,
which covers a controller accessory that can attached to an “information processing device.”
As reports that surround Nintendo NX have suggested, these will be detachable with illustrations demonstrating the potential behind the idea. What piques our interest is that the patent proposes that button input is registered by images obtained by an infrared camera, which touches on elements introduced in the other patents.
Whether these patents ultimately relate to Nintendo NX is unclear, seeing as Nintendo has barely mentioned their “dedicated game platform” beyond reiterating that it will be released globally in March 2017.
Nintendo is expected to reveal the console in September, so hopefully it won’t be long before we know exactly what their next-generation system will bring.