We all know the deal with patents by now - they're fascinating, can point the way towards exciting ideas for the future, but can also be rather random. Nintendo - and others - sometimes throw ideas at a wall, patent the decent ones, and actually develop a small handful. A new patent doing the rounds today does have a chance of seeing the light of day, we'd say, but keep provisos in mind.

Submitted earlier in the year but only just appearing online, this one would be an innovative approach to game control if it were to appear in the future, in NX or otherwise. The controller shown off seems like a stripped-back GamePad - with just two face buttons - but the key is with the shoulder buttons. According to this patent this would have wheels that can be scrolled and rotated.

Moving onto the description itself, it explains that the rotational part either works with a thumb when holding the controller in one hand or with the index finger if holding the controller in the traditional way with both hands.

A configuration example is an operation apparatus enabling an operation input by a user for performing predetermined information processing. The operation apparatus includes a direction input operation section and a rotation operation section. The direction input operation section: is provided on a front surface of a housing of the operation apparatus and at such a position that, in a state where the operation apparatus is held with at least one hand of a user, the direction input operation section is allowed to be operated with a thumb of the hand; and is an operation section for direction input. The rotation operation section: is provided on a surface different from the front surface of the housing and at such a position that, in a state where the operation apparatus is held with the hand or the other hand of the user, the rotation operation section is allowed to be operated with an index finger of the hand or the other hand; and is an operation section capable of being rotationally operated.

According to the above configuration example, it is possible to provide a new operation apparatus which can effectively utilize an index finger.

In another configuration example, the rotation operation section may be provided at a position included in two of side surfaces of the housing of the operation apparatus. The rotation operation section may be provided at either one of the side surfaces of the housing of the operation apparatus. The rotation operation section may be provided near a position where two of the side surfaces of the housing of the operation apparatus intersect each other. The rotation operation section may be provided at a shoulder portion of the housing.

It's explained in the application that these shoulder inputs could apply to both handheld gaming devices and game controllers.

It's an intriguing idea, with some commenting that they're surprised it wasn't part of any PC-centric Steam Controller designs. If a controller did have less buttons but focus some interaction on moving and rotating shoulder buttons it would certainly be a fresh approach, and typical of Nintendo's efforts to shake up and evolve the way games are played.

Let us know what you think of the idea, but remember that not all patents are destined to come true. Remember this one?

Thanks to all that sent this in.

[via freepatentsonline.com, neogaf.com]