Any gamers out there? Here we have a patent application US20190192962A1 by Nintendo that aims to protect some features of Nintendo’s modular gaming platform, the Nintendo Switch. This application appears to be pending, which means that it is not an issued patent, and therefore does not yet have enforceable legal protection.
In the figure above, the Nintendo switch (1) has a main body (2) with a screen (12) that is about the size of a small tablet or a mobile phone. Controllers (3) and (4) attach and detach to sides of the main body. This device might look familiar as something you walk past at your local Best Buy, Target, or Gamestop.
In the patent application, the claims describe the ability to adapt gameplay based on which controllers are attached. A camera located at the main body detects which controllers are attached, and how they are attached. Settings can be automatically reconfigured based on which controllers are attached to the main device, without requiring input from the user.
In addition, the controllers can include a “movable portion” that a user can move around as an input during gameplay. The moving portion can be a steering wheel, or levers used to change gears. The camera tracks the movable portion.
As shown in the above figure, controllers (4) can be removed from the main body and attached to the movable portion, in this case, a steering wheel. This reduces the amount of hardware (e.g., gyroscopes, accelerometers, wires) that might otherwise have to be installed in each movable portion. Hardware that is already present in each controller is leveraged, as well as using camera images in combination with object recognition and visual odometry to track how the movable portions are being manipulated.