Nintendo's filed a patent for a new kind of input on 3DS — one that requires no physical contact with the console at all.
The application uses the 3DS console's inner-facing camera along with a stylus to manipulate 3D images on the top screen without the need for buttons, touch screen or moving the console.
The inward-facing camera detects a 'marker' applied to the end of a stylus. The 3DS can calculate the marker's position in 3D space based on its size and position, using that information to manipulate an item on the top screen. By moving the stylus further away, the object could appear to 'come out' of the screen; move the stylus nearer and the object would appear to move deeper into the 3D space.
It wouldn't be limited to the inner camera either — the patent shows you could use the same stylus-marker combination to move items behind the machine, rather like moving the cards around in the system's existing Augmented Reality software only with far more flexibility.
The patent also refers to a new kind of stylus with a vibration function, giving you physical feedback when you interact with the virtual items, as well as a marker allowing it to be tracked by the 3DS camera. You wouldn't need this stylus though — the patent also shows the system works if you put the marker on your finger.
This isn't the first time Nintendo's experimented with camera-based motion control in a portable console — DSiWare has several titles available, from WarioWare Snapped! to Looksley's Line Up — but this is far more advanced. Being able to manipulate graphics on the top screen using just the stylus's position certainly sounds good, and we can see it being used well in The Legend of Zelda or Professor Layton.
Like the rest of Nintendo's recent patents this is just a concept for now, but what do you make of it? Could it change the way you play games or does it sound a little far-fetched to you?