Yet another Nintendo patent has emerged, filed way back in August 2014 and only just published earlier this month on April 4th. The device, described as an imaging processing system, is an enigma to many, so we hope to help explain what it could possibly be and what Nintendo may be planning to do with the technology. It’s worth noting, however, that the patent in its current form is translated by a machine, so some details may be inaccurate.

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First up is the image above, which shows a device that holds more than a little resemblance to the standard 3DS NFC reader. However, almost everything about it is different. For starters, the cylindrical structure would be made of a transparent glass or resin, to allow the wide-angled lens, labeled 22, and a convex mirror, labeled 30, to capture the surrounding environment. Why would they want to do this? Well…

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As seen above, someone has placed a piece of paper with various UI elements in front of the device. When the player touches these “buttons,” the mirror and camera figure out what button has been pushed and can translate that into data. A generalized depiction of this process can be seen in the image below.

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The patent brings up various other uses for the paper, one suggesting an interactive map for a role playing game, and another saying it could act as a placemat for figures. That’s right, this patent could result in a more interactive amiibo experience!

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It’s suggested that the image sensor inside the device would be able to determine the color, size or even pattern of the figure, and it would be able to detect multiple at once. A potential use case for this technology could be something like the Lego Dimensions portal, which encourages players to move the minifigs around the base to solve various puzzles, but this patent would remove the constraints of a physical NFC reader.

This brings us to the more unusual images…

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While the above may seem like a cool hologram at first glance, the patent describes it as a “display for exclusive use”, suggesting at something tangible. The image feed would be supplied by a computer, or presumably a console, and the camera and mirror inside the device would be able to determine how many people are sitting around it and divide the display accordingly.

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This smart device stand is more tame in comparison: the user(s) would be able to touch the environment around the device to interact with the screen.

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We also get a look at a potential physical peripheral working with the device: a racing wheel. The patent notes that, by tracking various markers, they can avoid having to power the peripheral independently at all.

One final note is that the patent references the fact it doesn’t need to lay flat on a surface, and gives the possible use case of it being attached to a whiteboard through magnetism. This suggests Nintendo is looking at more than entertainment possibilities with this device.

Of course, as with all patents, there’s no definite likelihood of this device being released commercially; it could simply be Nintendo covering its back with an intriguing invention. We’ll be sure to let you know if anything more comes of this patent in the near future, but for now we hope we’ve given you a general understanding of how it works.


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Written by Tom Brown

Whether it’s an exciting new entry in a series long established or a weird experiment meant only for the dedicated, Tom is eager to report on it. Rest assured, if Nintendo ever announces Elite Beat Agents 2, he’ll be there.

Tom Brown