Back to the Future Part II's vision of 2015 was an intelligent house that greeted people as they walked in. "Welcome home, Marty!" it would say. "Lord of the manor, King of the castle!" Well, this new patent application from Nintendo might lead to that mythical home of the increasingly-near future.
The patent shows a wireless connection between a home console and portable game system — let's say Wii and 3DS — used to share information like who's at home but potentially much more.
It's a simple premise. After pairing the two devices, a Wii console left in standby mode would communicate with a 3DS console via wireless. If the 3DS leaves range, the Wii would know the user had left; when the machine comes back into wireless range, it'd know the user had returned. The patent explains the TV screen could display a message, or the console could make a sound or illuminate an LED bulb to let people know someone was back. The 3DS too could display a "welcome home" message to its owner.
It sounds straightforward, if unreliable: what if you simply switch off your 3DS, or you have a large house and leave wireless range? Using the 3DS's pedometer and internal clock functions, the software would be able to calculate if you'd actually left the house and come back or simply wandered out of range. It could also see if you'd tried to trick the pedometer by shaking the console by plotting number of steps against time elapsed. Clever stuff, really.
The best part of all is that using WiiConnect24 in conjunction with this new ability would allow the Wii to download new content for 3DS games — a map, a weapon and so on — and push it to any 3DS consoles within range. SpotPass is capable of this function too of course, but we like the idea of a home console sending new content to handheld users.
Nintendo has repeatedly said its intention with Wii and Wii U was to make them integral to the living room; this is just another step towards those high-tech 2015 homes Robert Zemeckis promised us. Next we want one of those hydrating microwaves, please.