Nintendo's patents for gestures and detachable controllers add merit to NX rumors

Patents detailing detachable accessories seem to back up recent reports of the NX being a console/handheld hybrid.

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In the gaming world's tireless efforts to answer the nagging question of just what is the Nintendo NX, users on NeoGAF dug up patents that support Eurogamer's report from last month describing a portable console that you can connect to your TV and break apart to use as controllers.

As the patent applications detail, the controller-esque accessory connects to a tablet-like, "information processing device." In other words, the console itself. With the controller connected, the system looks similar to an iPad with buttons to one side.

Other documents describe—and show—gesture functionality. The tablet device contains a camera that scans for gestures used while playing games and, conceivably, navigating the console's OS. Notice the telling image of Mario in a go-kart preparing to speed down a track (undoubtedly littered with banana peels).

Illustrations submitted with patents can either be detailed or give a general overview of what an invention should look like and how it should behave. Therefore, just because these illustrations only show four buttons on the detachable controller accessory doesn't mean it will only have four buttons. It could have dials or triggers, and there might even be additional accessories users can purchase and connect to the device, the way various accessories could be plugged into Wii remotes. Other rumors suggest that the NX will be compatible with Nintendo's smartphone games. Who knows?

Nintendo knows, and it's not ready to talk. The Big N has neither confirmed nor denied the report, and one shouldn't expect them to until managers set a date and time to spill the beans on the NX. However, Eurogamer's sources purported to be close to members of Nintendo, and vouched for the authenticity of their information. It seems likely that we do know what the NX is; nitty-gritty specifics will have to wait until Miyamoto and company are ready to speak.

Images courtesy of Free Patents Online

Long Reads Editor

David L. Craddock writes fiction, nonfiction, and grocery lists. He is the author of the Stay Awhile and Listen series, and the Gairden Chronicles series of fantasy novels for young adults. Outside of writing, he enjoys playing Mario, Zelda, and Dark Souls games, and will be happy to discuss at length the myriad reasons why Dark Souls 2 is the best in the series. Follow him online at davidlcraddock.com and @davidlcraddock.

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  • reply
    August 11, 2016 2:59 PM

    David Craddock posted a new article, Nintendo's patents for gestures and detachable controllers add merit to NX rumors

    • reply
      August 11, 2016 3:39 PM

      What's the consensus on the idea of using gestures in tandem with traditional controls? I wonder if that will be an option, or if it'll be a one-or-the-other scenario.

      • reply
        August 11, 2016 3:41 PM

        Gestures are always bad unless you have 100% reliable tracking (eg Vive)

        • reply
          August 11, 2016 3:52 PM

          Yeah. It seems like gestures would come in handy in cramped environments. If you're riding a bus or train and don't want to bring the detachable controllers along--granted, we don't know how big any of these components are yet--you could, conceivably, play some games using gesture and/or touch controls.

      • Zek
        reply
        August 11, 2016 3:58 PM

        See the PS3, it's terrible.

      • reply
        August 11, 2016 5:35 PM

        Didn't the nunchuck do that?

        • reply
          August 12, 2016 6:32 AM

          In a rudimentary fashion. It only responded to a few movements. You could thrust it forward to do a shield bash in Skyward Sword, for example.

      • reply
        August 11, 2016 5:54 PM

        When sitting in front of a TV, yes, gestures can work. But when you're out an about, like on a bus/subway, gestures will get you killed.

        That being said, giving game devs the option to implement gestures is a great idea. Think of how many times you played a Mario game and when you jump, you flicked the entire controller upward wanting Mario to jump higher or further. As with any UI, it needs to be implemented seamlessly and naturally.

      • reply
        August 11, 2016 6:47 PM

        I generally view gesture controls in games as a clunky gimmick rather than a useful interface mechanism. That's not to say there aren't exceptions, but they're just that: Exceptions.

        Grafting a clunky gimmick to conventional controls doesn't suddenly make it useful or compelling, nor does it make the conventional controls more enjoyable.