Nintendo Files New Patent for a Handheld Device, But Don't Get Excited Yet

Get a glimpse into what may or may not be Nintendo's future.


A new Nintendo patent for a handheld device has been discovered, though it's too soon to know what the company's plans are for it.

The patent was filed for by a number of Nintendo employees with the US Patent & Trademark Office on December 3, 2015, but it was only just published recently, on June 30. (Prior to that, it was filed for in Japan on December 26, 2014.) It focuses first and foremost on its speakers and vibration capabilities, though it does also talk about its other hardware components, including a touchscreen.

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"A non-limiting example information processing apparatus comprises a housing, and a left speaker and a right speaker are provided in a left end portion and a right portion of the housing and in an inside of this housing," reads the summary. "Each speaker is arranged such that a vibration direction of a diaphragm becomes in a direction perpendicular to a plane surface of a display panel that is provided in the front of the housing.

"Sound emission portions for emitting sounds from the speakers are formed in both end portions of the housing and on a side surface at near side or this side that the speakers are arranged. Therefore, sounds are emitted toward a side of a player who holds the information processing apparatus. A vibrator that is provided between the two speakers is driven simultaneously with the speakers or in a predetermined order."

The patent goes on to describe a number of things, such as having "the sound and the vibration … notify a position in a depth direction in three-dimensional virtual space." It would do this by varying the vibration strength and volume level from each of its two speakers.

A number of images, including those above, are included with the patent, but they shouldn't be taken as hard plans. For instance, one shows what looks like a 3DS circle pad, but the patent notes this could instead be, say, an analog stick.

You can read the full patent for yourself here.

It's important to note that, as with all patents, Nintendo filing for this doesn't necessarily indicate that it intends to develop new hardware based on it. Likewise, we shouldn't assume this has anything to do with Nintendo's new system, the NX, which will reportedly be a sort of console/handheld hybrid. Nintendo surprised fans when it opted not to show the system--which is set to launch by March 2017--at E3 in June. It says this was because it was concerned with copycats.

Last year, Nintendo filed for several patents, like one for a free-form touch controller and another for a disc-less game system. Like this latest one, these aren't necessarily reflective of what Nintendo has planned for the NX (or any other future system), but they do make for some interesting reading.

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