Several patent applications filed by Nintendo this past January were published online today, and their contents are reminiscent of recent reports about the company’s next game console, known only as the NX. As spotted by users on NeoGAF, one of the documents details a detachable accessory for a handheld device — much like the NX is rumored to have.
One patent application is for a controller-like accessory that plugs into "an information processing device." That device is most commonly shown to be a portable, tablet-like system in images included in the document. The accessory has four buttons, enabling its use as a controller, with other images showing how the buttons can be pressed to become operational.
The document is a bit of a dense read, but the pictures are what’s important. The detachable item looks and sounds like what’s been described by outlets like Eurogamer, which reported earlier this month that the NX is a portable console that is equipped with two removable controllers and is capable of docking to a bigger screen. Nintendo has not confirmed the report, but it’s been corroborated by sources close to the company, Eurogamer said, with additional rumors trailing in ever since.
The other applications detail gesture-based input technology for a new system, eliminating the need for a controller at all. A camera housed on the handheld system would capture gesture information from a player’s hand to control a game. That’s the sort of new technology that Nintendo is known for when introducing a new system, and the gesture operations appear in the controller patent application as well.
Similar technology was seen in a patent filed in July 2015. That application, published in March, goes in-depth on a portable device that was operated by right hand gestures, as the left hand gripped the handheld system. The application calls for an infrared camera to assess a player's hand motions, just as the newer document does.
We’ll have to wait until this fall to find out what the NX actually looks like and if the series of patents applies to the console. Find out everything we do know about Nintendo’s next console in our explainer — just keep in mind that the company has confirmed almost nothing about the system thus far.