Nintendo patent application shows portable system with interchangable controls

#1
United States Patent Application 20140121023

Publication Date: 05/01/2014 Filing Date:10/21/2013


FIG. 1
A game system according the present embodiment is constituted by including a portable game machine (information processing device) which may be carried by a user, and one or more operation instruments. FIG. 1 is an example non-limiting schematic view illustrating an appearance of a game machine and an operation instrument according to Embodiment 1. The game machine according to the present embodiment is provided with a housing 1 having a substantially-rectangular board-like shape. A display unit 2 is arranged at the substantial center of a front surface 1a of the housing 1. On the housing 1, an analog stick 3a and a cross key 3b are arranged vertically on the left side of the display unit 2. On the housing 1, in a region on the right side of the display unit 2, an attachment unit 4 to which an operation instrument 7 is attached is arranged at the upper side, and four push buttons 3c to 3f are arranged on the lower side. Each of the four push buttons 3c to 3f has a substantially circular shape and is located to correspond to each apex of a diamond. On the housing 1, in a region below the display unit 2, substantially-rectangular three push buttons 3g to 3i are arranged side by side. The game machine according to the present embodiment accepts the user's operation for the analog stick 3a through push button 3i and for the operation instrument 7 attached to the attachment unit 4. The game machine performs information processing concerning a game in accordance with the accepted content of operation.

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.

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.


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.

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


Alternate Configurations




Search returned no past references to a similar design but I could be wrong.

Old/already discussed?
 
#9
It feels too soon to replace the 3DS, right? This doesn't seem like it's backwards compatible, either. Maybe this will be the '3rd pillar'? Hosting games/apps similar to what kids play on phones, including educational/fitness apps?
 
#14
It feels too soon to replace the 3DS, right? This doesn't seem like it's backwards compatible, either. Maybe this will be the '3rd pillar'? Hosting games/apps similar to what kids play on phones, including educational/fitness apps?
Define "too soon". To release a successor? Yes. To be hard at work on a successor? Nope.
 
#18
I feel like I've seen this before...

Either way, interesting concept.
Well, it's a pretty common concept : the device with interchangeable parts. There's something like that for smartphones, VALve had something similar for controllers.

Honestly, it looks really interesting, but I'm not sure how they'll manage to have something that can be used in an actual console. Probably too expensive/fragile.
 
#19
It feels too soon to replace the 3DS, right? This doesn't seem like it's backwards compatible, either. Maybe this will be the '3rd pillar'? Hosting games/apps similar to what kids play on phones, including educational/fitness apps?
Nintendo is working on 3DS/WiiU successors, Sony on PS5 and MS on the Xbone successor. Therefore they test and patent different ideas.
 
#22
I believe there was mention of something like this when the 3DS was being designed. The circle pad and D-pad were interchangeable at one point, if just fir the engineers to plays around with.
 
#25
This could be an interesting idea where they can throw in add ons that attaches to that slot to add extra gameplay functions or to be sold as a accessory.

Like a pokeball looking button that hotkeys to a specific function in pokemon, weird games that has a special hardware built for it like Kirby tilt or guitar hero DS.

Could be interesting if done well.
 
#27
They had this idea for the 3DS actually, I remember they mentioned it in one of those Iwata asks segments. So perhaps it´s for that?
 
#30
Well, it's a pretty common concept : the device with interchangeable parts. There's something like that for smartphones, VALve had something similar for controllers.

Honestly, it looks really interesting, but I'm not sure how they'll manage to have something that can be used in an actual console. Probably too expensive/fragile.
I wouldn't say expensive or fragile, it works with cheap rfid/nfc like tech with no physical connections so you should be able to make the parts pretty simple and rugged.

The short distance radio communication unit 16 wirelessly feeds electric power from the power supply unit 17 to the IC tag 70 of the operation instrument 7. The operation instrument 7, therefore, is not required to have a battery or the like.
There's the danger of the parts popping out if you drop it on the floor, maybe :)
 
#34
Awesome. Could interchangable controls possibly mean changing between circle pads and actual sticks? Because actual sticks are so much better. Not that the circle pad is horrible, but it's noticeably worse than an actual stick.
 
Q

qizah

Unconfirmed Member
#35
This sounds similar to what Google is doing with Project Ara, except it's with button inputs rather than hardware configurations.

It's an interesting concept, if they do go forward with it I hope it turns out as planned.
 
#36
Seems like a pretty cool idea. Especially if they allow some degree of user customizability like being able to swap the positions of the D-Pad and Circle Pad to fit your preference on games that use both.
 

Principate

Saint Titanfall
#38
I wouldn't say expensive or fragile, it works with cheap rfid/nfc like tech with no physical connections so you should be able to make the parts pretty simple and rugged.



There's the danger of the parts popping out if you drop it on the floor, maybe :)
With right connections no. If potential engineering connections were that flimsy, do you honestly believe we'd be able to complete operations in space or kilometres underground?
 
#40
This seems like a great idea as long as the potential of losing parts can be handled well. Would it be possible to have a compartment you can attach to the console that holds extra parts?
They could probably sell extras in stores. Hell, they could do a lot with this. Probably allow third parties to make their own. Maybe even sell different colored variants.
 
#41
Basically the last cheap gimmick they can try. All those buttons on the Wii U Gamepad didn't help in the bid to retain casuals.
Or a great way to make playing either 2D or 3D games on a handheld more comfortable by swapping the D-pad with the analogue stick. (3D games on Vita and 2D games on the 3DS )

Or replacing your worne out buttons without the need to screw the whole thing open .
 
#45
They could probably sell extras in stores. Hell, they could do a lot with this. Probably allow third parties to make their own. Maybe even sell different colored variants.
Oh man, imagine the 3rd party potential. If someone doesn't like the responsiveness/feel of the D-Pad or Buttons someone else could make something that works better for them. I hope this actually becomes a thing.
 
#46
How is having the opportunity to permanently end the "I hate this controller because I like my dpad and control sticks the other way" discussion the "worst idea ever"?
Because I don't want to have to worry which games need what accesories or spend time changing them or worrying about loosing them.
 
#47
So we all looking forward to the Nintendo GameBoy 2 being revealed at E3?
Seriously though.... Nintendo needs to bring back the gameboy name. The only reason why we don't have new gameboys is because the third pillar turned out to be made of solid gold... Nothing wrong with the previous one made of marble!
 
#50
Seriously though.... Nintendo needs to bring back the gameboy name. The only reason why we don't have new gameboys is because the third pillar turned out to be made of solid gold... Nothing wrong with the previous one made of marble!
If they step away from the DS name at least it means we can get rid of the "people are confused by the name, they dont know it's a new device" argument.