Nintendo patent application shows portable system with interchangeable controls

By Michael On 2 May, 2014 At 01:22 AM | Categorized As General News | With 0 Comment

I saw this on VGCHARTZ and Neogaf, and I deemed it newsworthy. Neogaf User Disorientator discovered an interest patent application filed on October 21, 2013 by Nintendo. The patent showcased a peculiar concept regarding a new designs for a potential portable system or mobile phone.

nintendo portable patent

I’ve read the Patent application (which was a pain by the way) – in simplistic terms – it appears Nintendo is looking into designing a portable with the capacity to swap buttons, d-pad and analog sticks through the use of detachable attachments – for example swapping a d-pad for a circle pad.  From what I gather – the technology is achieved by short distance radio communication, allowing the device to recognize inputs despite the attachments being constantly switched around.

The 3DS is past its 3rd birthday – so it would be ludicrous to think Nintendo has not begun research and development for their next handheld. However, patents come and go – with some ideas never make their way into the final designs.  With this said – it would be very interesting where Nintendo takes this idea, whether they will implement it in a future product or not.

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FIG. 1

An information processing device such as a game machine or a mobile phone is provided with an operation unit with one or more buttons, switches or the like for accepting operation by a user. A game machine, for example, is provided with a cross key, an analog stick, an operational push button or the like, to accept operation concerning a movement or an action of a character in a game, or operation concerning various games such as operation for selecting a menu. Furthermore, a mobile phone is, for example, provided with an operational push button on which a number, a letter or the like is written, and with a directional key or an analog stick for, e.g., four or eight directions, to accept operation concerning speaking, electronic mail transmission/reception or the like.

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FIG. 2

In the game machine according to the present embodiment, other than the illustrated operation instrument 7, various operation instruments 7 having different structures may be attached to the attachment unit 4. In the operation instrument 7, an IC (Integrated Circuit) chip or the like having a wireless communication function is embedded. The game machine may determine the kind of the operation instrument 7 attached to the attachment unit 4 by performing wireless communication with the operation instrument 7. The game machine has a function of detecting operation performed by the user for the operation instrument 7 attached to the attachment unit 4. This allows the game machine to accept operation corresponding to the type of the operation instrument 7 attached to the attachment unit 4 and to perform game processing. In other words, the game machine may change the processing to be performed in accordance with the type of the operation instrument 7, when the operation for the operation instrument 7 attached to the attachment unit 4 is detected.

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FIG. 5

Nine pressure sensors S1 to S9 are arranged in matrix of three by three at the inner surface 4d of the attachment unit 4. One pressure sensor S5 located at the center has a substantially square shape. Each of the eight pressure sensors S1 to S4, S6 to S9 on the periphery has a substantially rectangular shape. The pressure sensors S1 to S4 and S6 to S9 are arranged in a radial pattern with respect to the pressure sensor S5 at the center. The pressure sensors S1 to S9 are so arranged that the center of the operation instrument 7 corresponds to the position of the pressure sensor S5 when the operation instrument 7 is attached to the attachment unit 4. In FIG. 5, the operation instrument 7 is illustrated by a circular shape of a dashed-dotted line.Each of the pressure sensors S1 to S9 is connected to the operation detecting unit 15 through a signal line. Each of the pressure sensors S1 to S9 outputs a signal in accordance with an applied pressure to the operation detecting unit 15. The operation detecting unit 15 independently determines, based on the signals from each of the pressure sensors S1 to S9, whether or not a pressure is applied to each of the pressure sensors S1 to S9. The operation detecting unit 15 may further determine the intensity of the pressure applied to each of the pressure sensors S1 to S9.

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FIG. 6A

FIGS. 6A to 6D show example non-limiting schematic views illustrating other examples of the operation instrument 7. The operation instrument 7 illustrated in FIG. 6A has indication parts 7b so arranged to have a positional relationship in which four substantially circular parts respectively correspond to the apexes of a diamond. This operation instrument 7 is to accept substantially the same operation as that for the four push buttons 3c to 3f on the operation unit 3. The operation instrument 7 is used to accept operation for an action such as attacking or jumping of a game character, for example, or for deciding or canceling a selected menu item. Hereinafter, the operation instrument 7 will be referred to as “four push button operation instrument 7.” When the four push button operation instrument 7 is attached to the attachment unit 4, the operation detecting unit 15 detects operation using the four pressure sensors
S2, S4, S6 and S8 corresponding to the arrangement of the substantially circular indication parts 7b. The game processing unit 32 accepts operation for the operation instrument 7 as the operation for each of the individual push buttons. The game processing unit 32 performs game processing in accordance with the operation for each push button.

FIG. 6B

The operation instrument 7 illustrated in FIG. 6B has indication parts 7b of three substantial circles arranged in a straight line. The operation instrument 7 is to accept operation similar to that for the three push buttons. Hereinafter, the operation instrument 7 is referred to as “three push button operation instrument 7.” In the case where the three push button operation instrument 7 is attached to the attachment unit 4, the operation detecting unit 15 detects operation using three pressure sensors S3, S5 and S7 corresponding to the arrangement of the substantially circular indication parts 7b. The game processing unit 32 accepts the operation for the operation instrument 7 as the operation for each of the individual push buttons. The game processing unit 32 performs game processing in accordance with operation for each push button.

FIG. 6C

The operation instrument 7 illustrated in FIG. 6C is provided with one substantially circular indication part 7b. This operation instrument 7 is to accept operation similar to that for one push button. Hereinafter, this operation instrument 7 will be referred to as “one push button operation instrument 7.” In the case where the one push button operation instrument 7 is attached to the attachment unit 4, the operation detecting unit 15 detects operation using all the pressure sensors S1 to S9. The operation detecting unit 15 detects the operation for the operation instrument 7 when the application of a pressure to any one of the pressure sensors S1 to S9 is detected. It is, however, also possible for the operation detecting unit 15 to detect operation using, for example,
one pressure sensor S5. The game processing unit 32 accepts the operation for the operation instrument 7 as the operation for one push button and performs
game processing.

FIG. 6D

The operation instrument 7 illustrated in FIG. 6D has a structure in which an indication part 7b formed to represent a three-dimensional game character stands on the base unit 7a. The operation instrument 7 is to operate, for example, a specific character appearing in a specific game. Hereinafter, this operation instrument 7 will be referred to as “character operation instrument 7.” Several kinds of character operation instruments 7 may be prepared for different characters that appears in a game and may be operated. In the case where the character operation instrument 7 is attached to the attachment unit 4, which one of the pressure sensors S1 to S9 is used by the operation detecting unit 15 to detect operation depends on the content of a game. For example, in a game that uses the operation instrument 7 for moving a character, the operation detecting unit 15 may detect operation using four pressure sensors S2, S4, S6 and S8 as in the case with the cross key operation instrument 7. When operation for the operation instrument 7 is accepted, the game processing unit 32 performs game processing concerning a character corresponding to the operation instrument 7 attached to the attachment unit 4, for example, moving the corresponding character.

Alternate Configurations


“Attachment units” seems to communicate/connect with “main” system through a “short distance communication unit”, and not any form of physical contacts.

 

About - Michael is the proud owner and Editor-in-Chief of Mii-gamer.com! He has a Bachelors Degree with First Class Honors ( try to guess his Degree), and has been writing about video games for many years. His favorite Nintendo franchises include the Legend of Zelda, Super Smash Bros. and Pokemon. When Michael is not playing video games – he is usually outdoors riding kangaroo’s, playing cricket or sleeping (or doing all three at the same time).