Throughout the course of 2015 Nintendo filed multiple patents that reinforce a widely held belief - that Nintendo NX will have a portable / handheld component in addition to being a 'home console'. We already know, based on game announcements such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Just Dance 2017 that the system will be a 'home console' in the sense it'll be playable on TVs, but there's plenty of logic and evidence to suggest that the system will have a portable element as well.
One of the most well-known of these patents relates to a 'free-form screen' application, with images that now tellingly (in hindsight) draw comparisons to Breath of the Wild in terms of in-game items and so on. You can see the full details and those images in the article from that time.
Another patent that's now available to see actually draws comparison with a 'haptic feedback' equivalent from last year. Filed in December last year and available to publicly view for a little under a week, a fresh patent also shows a simple and square touch-based interface, though the focus of the application is on sound and vibration technology.
A non-limiting example information processing apparatus comprises a housing, and a left speaker and a right speaker are provided in a left end portion and a right portion of the housing and in an inside of this housing. Each speaker is arranged such that a vibration direction of a diaphragm becomes in a direction perpendicular to a plane surface of a display panel that is provided in the front of the housing. Sound emission portions for emitting sounds from the speakers are formed in both end portions of the housing and on a side surface at near side or this side that the speakers are arranged. Therefore, sounds are emitted toward a side of a player who holds the information processing apparatus. A vibrator that is provided between the two speakers is driven simultaneously with the speakers or in a predetermined order.
In basic terms the application explains, in great detail, how vibrators placed throughout the device combine with 3D sound - so for example as a character runs from left to right across the screen the sound follows between two speakers on either side. The vibration can also be designed to react to on-screen actions and the sound, so it's clearly aiming for a solution well beyond the standard 'rumble on/off' that we've seen in Nintendo hardware up to now.
Beyond that focus, one of our favourite images shows a peripheral that can be placed on the core device; as you can see it replaces parts of the screen that would otherwise be virtual buttons with physical inputs. It's similar in concept to plenty of controller options available on smart devices, for example, though as this is a patent we'd expect a final product to have more of a 'Nintendo touch'.
Overall, this patent is interesting primarily for the fact that it reinforces the prospect of a portable aspect to the Nintendo NX. With Nintendo having merged its portable and home console departments some years ago, talk of a 'new way to play' and the sense that the company will want to shift to one set of development projects rather than supporting two (as with Wii U / 3DS), then it certainly seems likely.
Let us know what you think of all this in the comments.