News Article

Wii U Controller Patent Reveals Interesting Features

Posted by Trevor Chan

Fingers crossed for a mini George Foreman grill

At this stage in the game, Nintendo has officially revealed relatively little about the specifics behind the upcoming Wii U and its controller technology.

Apart from the standard features one would come to expect from any brand of console controller, we know the Wii U's will also sport a 6.2-inch touch screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio, two analogue Circle Pads, built-in accelerometer and gyroscope sensors, rumble feature, camera, microphone, stereo speakers and a sensor strip. All of that technological goodness is sufficiently impressive as it is, but a recently published patent from Nintendo revealed a little bit more about the controller many of us will be holding in our hands when the Wii U launches next year.

One of the patent's accompanying images depicts the major components of the Wii U controller including a magnetic sensor. This magnetic sensor detects the azimuthal direction which relates to the angular measurement between an observer position and a point of interest. This feature seems to be related to the part of the Wii U promotional video that was shown at E3 2011, where the Wii U controller was placed on the floor facing upwards and the user held a Wii Remote like a golf club, swinging at a ball which was displayed on the controller's screen. The observation point in this case is the Wii U controller and the point of interest is the Wii Remote. Logically, as the Wii U controller tracks the altitude of the Wii Remote and its angle of entry as it swings across, the speed and direction that the ball will travel in can then be calculated.

[Edit] Or it could be the method in which the Wii U controller keeps itself calibrated by using the Earth's magnetic field.

The patent also mentioned that the Wii U controller will feature built-in flash memory and an infrared module.

[via freepatentsonline.com]

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User Comments (55)

King_Boo

#3

King_Boo said:

fingers crossed this doesn't translate to a bunch of dollar signs, I want to buy a couple games when I get this system.

Unca_LzStaff

#4

Unca_Lz said:

And thus Nintendo was sued over the deaths of expensive thrown controllers. Good job!

Retro_on_theGo

#5

Retro_on_theGo said:

Wow, that sounds like one packed controller. I can't imagine what you are going to have to do if you loose or break it. :O It's probably going to cost a lot. Nintendo better have some awesome games up their sleeves to make use of all this controller's awesome features.

skywake

#8

skywake said:

I'm fairly sure that's not how it works......... I highly doubt the Wii Remote creates enough of a magnetic field to be used in that way. Infact the patent doesn't seem to mention that use at all. More likely they're using the "markers" (also in the patent) which I'm assuming are just IR points (given the Wii Remote's IR Camera) in that use case.... or simply using it as a display and doing the same way they did in Wii Sports Resort.

As for the magnetic sensors, they have them in iPhones and some GPSes and in them it's purely used to make calculating "direction" quicker/possible. Without that sensor you have to compare your current position to your previous position to calculate direction. So more likely they're including it so they can zero the gyros using the sensor bar and, once that's done, they can then re-zero the gyros using the Earth's magnetic field.

edit: :D I think your edit beat me to it!

FluttershyGuy

#10

FluttershyGuy said:

Didn't read it closely enough at first. Glad it didn't talk about swinging the WII U CONTROLLER like a golf club! That'd be a bit awkward and potentially expensive (replacing TVs, windows, lamps, etc.). And you thought Tiger Woods was bad... I could be farther over par than even him using a Wii U controller! ;)

skywake

#12

skywake said:

Actually, I'm 100% sure what I said was correct. They talk about the golf example and say they calculate the location of the "golf club" based on some step. When you find that step there is a detailed description of it.... Which basically says they calculate the location of "controller 5" (the Wii Remote) based on the position of "marker 6" (the Wii sensor bar) and then they go into a detailed description of how they use that information to zero the gyros. So it does seem like this is Wii Sports Resort golf with a second screen.

........ and all I can find about how they use the magnetic sensor is this:
"Strictly speaking, in a place where there is a magnetic field other than the geomagnetic field, the obtained azimuthal direction data does not represent the azimuthal direction. Nevertheless, if the terminal device 7 (Wii U Controller) moves, the azimuthal direction data changes, and it is therefore possible to calculate the change in the attitude of the terminal device 7"

i.e. it's a compass that they use to work out the direction the controller is facing relative to where it was facing before.......

skywake

#14

skywake said:

@13 Depends on what it is. As Nintendo fanboy who has a computer/spatial science background I can't help but think of this as one of the huge exceptions to the rule. :)

edit: oh, and something I just noticed. No mention of an IR camera on the front (i.e. top) of the Wii U controller... which is surprising. I guess that means it's not possible to work out where the Wii U controller is in relation to the TV using the sensor bar. Unless you somehow use the front facing camera or do some calibration using the Wii Remote and/or magnetic sensor thingo..... :S

Rockmirth

#15

Rockmirth said:

I got a question here: technichly you wouldnt need a tv to play this right? since you can play on the controller

lex0plex

#16

lex0plex said:

Very interesting point. I wonder if you need the TV when the game boots up or system turns on. It'd be very cool if it was entirely optional.

Daisaku36

#17

Daisaku36 said:

And investors are saying Nintendo isn't thinking outside the box....I disagree (but I'm not an investor, so my opinion is useless, unfortunately).

skywake

#19

skywake said:

@15 Yes... technically... but I think developers will assume you have a TV hooked up and can turn it on. I'm fairly sure some games will demand the use of the TV.

You can almost think of it like a huge DS. On the DS developers could, if they wanted, give you an option to play on only one screen. It wouldn't really be much of a feature on the DS but on the Wii U it could be. However there are some DS games, and therefore Wii U games, where doing that would remove something. On the DS that would be things like Henry Hatsworth but on a home console the TV is handy for other things like multiplayer etc, etc.

SanderEvers

#20

SanderEvers said:

@15: Some games will be playable only on the controller, some of them will let you choose, and some will require both. Developers are free to do this how they want.

Capt_N

#21

Capt_N said:

Interesting. But Nintendo needs to also start releasing info on the actual console, a little @ a time.

erv

#22

erv said:

Nintendo patent reveals...

...no monster hunter wiiU yet. Moving on.

SuperSonic

#23

SuperSonic said:

Now Sony will coincidentally announce that the Vita or future PS4 remote will have this.

Moshugan

#24

Moshugan said:

This will be an awesome controller. I just hope there will be great MotionPlus games also. It's a shame that Wii doesn't have more than a couple of worthwhile + games, even though it's such a great addition to the Wiimote. I was impressed by Resort and the sword play of Red Steel 2 worked great. I have high expectations for Skyward. Let's not forget the Wiimote! It's why we bought the Wii in the first place, right?

MetroidMasher17

#26

MetroidMasher17 said:

Speculation Mode, activate!
Eh... so, anyway, back to Wii U. I read a lot of big words back there. I can safely assume, therefore, that Wii U will have a wealth of new features that we haven't heard of, never seen by anyone outside of Nintendo. I wonder why they always have to be so secretive... :D Then again, the 3DS has a lot of features that haven't been used enough, like delivering new software through SpotPass to name just one, and look at its sales numbers. What I'm trying to say is that it doesn't matter how powerful a new system is unless there exist games to take advantage of that power, not just moneymakers.

RaylaxStaff

#27

Raylax said:

". This magnetic sensor detects the azimuthal direction which relates to the angular measurement between an observer position and a point of interest."

Could I have this line in English?

OcnCtznRI

#28

OcnCtznRI said:

I kind of have this fear that 3rd party developers will find a way to screw this up. Nintendo will HAVE to hold their hands this time, step by step to avoid confusion in the use of their technology. That is the reason why they mention 3ds does not only focus on 3d games, while there are other features to utilize. It's kind of hard to have an idea where many wouldn't grasp.

Mukkinese

#30

Mukkinese said:

". This magnetic sensor detects the azimuthal direction which relates to the angular measurement between an observer position and a point of interest."
Could I have this line in English?

As I understand it, this is used to calibrate the gyro sensors "on the fly", hopefully putting an end to the "lay the Wiimote on a flat surface face down" moments.

One thing that occurs with this controller -being so flat and plain, is that it is crying out for customising. I can see some smart, third party bringing out all kinds of stickers and overlays.

I'm still wondering what the Infra-red emitter is going to be used for?

Maggots

#31

Maggots said:

no where on there do I see sensor bar ... I wish people would stop saying it has one cause I don;t think it does... it has an infra red camera which is exactly the same as what is in the wii remote

Demonic_St33V

#33

Demonic_St33V said:

What I'm wanting to see are the patent docs for the WiiU console itself, but it looks like those haven't completed the approval process yet.

rjejr

#35

rjejr said:

For those clicking on the video link, the golf segment is at 3:25. I'm impressed how flat it sat on the floor considering the horizontal hump across the back, guess there is something near the bottom middle to balance it out. Wonder how well it will sit on thick carpet? There is actually a ton of cool stuff in that video - after you get past 2 minutes of talking. 2 player Othello ONLY on the screen got my attention. I don't like all those holding the controller over the tv segments though for baseball and web browsing. I just bought an iPod Touch on Tues. (yes I know the new one comes out next month) and it's fun to use. I can see this controller getting a lot of use in a lot of different ways as shown in that video. Hopefully no motion controls though ;-)

MeloMan

#36

MeloMan said:

My biggest worry is this: Will this have a rechargable battery and if so, how long can it sustain that charge? No more AA batteries for your controllers now, Nintendo, take a page from your handheld devices and save us the trouble of buying 3rd party battery charge packs.

Sgt_Ludby

#38

Sgt_Ludby said:

I love the prospect of playing without a TV! Not for all games, but the option of playing some strictly on the controller excites me. I go on vacation frequently with my family and the car rides can get dull. I have an adapter that turns the cigarette lighter into an AC outlet, so I'm able to keep my laptop charged up. We don't have a TV in our car, though, so being able to plug the console into the adapter and play right there on the controller sounds awesome!

LordTendoboy

#39

LordTendoboy said:

@Sgt_Ludby

"I love the prospect of playing without a TV!"

I did that back in 1990 with the Game Boy.

Why does everyone think this controller is so revolutionary? Nintendo basically made a handheld system as the Wii U's controller. It's a handheld without a cartridge slot.

And I bet the flash memory will be for transferring save data between the controller and console.

Wolfenstein83

#40

Wolfenstein83 said:

@MeloMan:
That is my thought exactly.
The controllers we have now suck up batteries like nobodies business, so I can only imagine what this will be like, especially with all the things jammed into it.
Hopefully it will be able to be wired to the console with a USB cable or something.
I am surprised that the vitality sensor wasn't built into the controller too, along with something to check blood pressure, a twizzler dispenser, oh, and maybe a projector on the back so I can use my wall as a screen too.
Well anyways, all kidding aside, I hope it has better battery life than the 3DS does.

KrazyBean

#41

KrazyBean said:

Can it also give me a back massage? :p

Seriously...that controller will explode with all those features in it. A HD Mario and Zelda isn't enough for me to buy this thing, but I'll still get it around 1-2 years time...but then the next Xbox will be out, hmm...choices.

One thing that ticks me off is that when I sell my Wii for a Wii U, I still have to buy an entire set of Wii accessories AGAIN because you can't buy another one of these darn controllers!

LeasTwanteD

#42

LeasTwanteD said:

Less manual calibrating always sounds like a good thing. :)

@Sgt_Ludby (38.) & @tendoboy1984 (39.): I don't know if that will be possible. So far Nintendo always said they don't want this to to be a handheld and that it will need the controller near the console to have content on it. So it could mean when you leave your house the connection will be lost and the controller's screen will turn black ... And it would make sense since the 3DS wouldn't be rendered useless then.

RyuZebian

#43

RyuZebian said:

If it hardly ever needs calibration, that would be a nice to keep the flow of the game.

komicturtle

#44

komicturtle said:

If Sony "follows" Nintendo by using the Vita and PS3 to simulate WiiU, it just creates greater competition and surely, Nintendo will have things that the Vita and PS3 just can't do.

mushroomer

#45

mushroomer said:

I heard that the new controller will be able to emit small bursts of Electro Magnetic Pulses. Which you can use to destroy electronics within your home. For the final stage, you can actually destroy electronics within a 5 mile radius!!! What progress.

mushroomer

#46

mushroomer said:

komicturtle92

but, the vita is not dependent on the ps3. you can take it with you anywhere and play games away from the system. i think there IS a drawback to both though... I think what would be a great idea would be to have dedicated Wii U controller games but also have the option of using your DSi and/or 3DS to communicate with the wiiU because then you could have football games where each player can make decisions about what plays they can and will do stuff like that.

BenAV

#47

BenAV said:

I wonder what the range is for the controller.
My bedroom is right next to my lounge where I have my TV and consoles so if it has a fairly decent range then I'd love the idea of being able to play my home console games in bed, rather than just my DS/3DS.

LordTendoboy

#49

LordTendoboy said:

@LTD
"Less manual calibration is always a good thing"

The PlayStation Move controller uses a magnometer, yet you always have to calibrate the controller before you play a game.

Blue_Yoshi

#50

Blue_Yoshi said:

This is everything technologically possible that a controller can have at this time. I cant wait to hear what games will be on here.

asoccerstar43

#52

asoccerstar43 said:

i think controller is going to be more money than the wii so think if you want another controller you have to buy it fo 150

Poncho

#53

Poncho said:

The only problem I have with the controller is the placement of the circle pads. They should be under the buttons and D-pad.

nfzeta007

#55

nfzeta007 said:

At least this confirms that both controls can be used at the same time interactively which could mean a lot for some games.

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