Nintendo Granted Touchscreen Controller Patent, Fueling Rumors Of An Interactive 3D Gamepad

Nintendo has been granted a patent for a touchscreen controller. The unique design suggests a gamepad with 3D free-form touchscreen.

Nintendo seems to be developing a radical new type of controller that sports a touchscreen which covers its entire surface. The patent granted for such a type of touchscreen controller hints at a new hybrid console and handheld system for a new product the Japanese company plans to unveil in 2016. The company is confirmed to be working on a new gaming system and the Internet has been abuzz for quite some time about the rumored Nintendo NX. Though there is no confirmation from the company about the final name, the patent does offer a glimpse at what the company may be developing.

The patent filed in June and published this week, isn’t for the NX itself. Neither does it reveal any major component of the hardware console. Instead, the patent seems to be about a hybrid gaming controller or an entire handheld gaming system that the company might make for its next console.

The illustrations mentioned in the patent show a flat handheld controller with a screen that curves around the edges. At the edge are two thumbsticks on either end, resulting in a touchscreen that covers the entire face of the device, reported Border Chronicle. Incidentally, there’s no confirmation about presence of any physical buttons on the face. This gives the controller an interesting oval shape with handles and sticks. There are indications of buttons mounted on the shoulders.

Essentially the device shown is a gaming controller that appears to have just two control sticks and two shoulder buttons. In case the game requires any more buttons, they could appear on the screen as and when needed. The virtual objects would appear on the oval touchscreen that wraps around the entire controller. The patent hints that the control sticks aren’t really thumbsticks that are commonly found on Nintendo’s other consoles. These protrude from the top of the controller’s surface and are just high enough to be felt, giving the sensation of touching a physical controller and not the touchscreen.

Though the patent doesn’t elaborate, there could be other seemingly physical buttons embedded within the touchscreen. There might be other sensors that allow gameplay by tilting the controller, too.

Interestingly, the patent for the touchscreen controller shows the screen could flash contextual buttons that appear only during specific sections of the game and perhaps prompt the player to take different actions. The controller also appears to feature a card slot, but the patent doesn’t explain its purpose, reported the Daily Mail. Typically, such slots house SD memory cards to record progress or store game data. However, the card slot in this controller may turn out to be a SIM card tray, which would enable Internet access or allow a dedicated connection to a larger console. The controller is designed to allow browsing the web, apart from playing games.

Nintendo hasn’t confirmed or denied the final design of the controller, but it has claimed that the wraparound touchscreen controller actually increases a player’s sense of immersion with the controller, and the company could accentuate this fact by adding in little elements like sparks shooting out or other interactive elements whenever one’s thumbs hit the screen, reported PC Mag.

There have been other patents filed recently, which include shoulder-mounted scroll wheels. Some patents hint at a game machine that can be extended in capacity and processing power by hooking it up to an auxiliary processing unit and transferring some of the intensive graphics processing to a remote, cloud computing array.

If Nintendo intends to make such a wraparound touchscreen game controller, it could have a great product that’s expected to be launched as early as mid-2016.

[Photo by Mark Windl /Getty Images, FPO, Masato et al.]