Over the past two years patents have been explored in detail as fans seek clues about Nintendo's upcoming hardware, but now there are some documents that are directly relevant to the Nintendo Switch; they provide some interesting insights, too.

Filed on 10th June and made available to the public today, application number 15/178984 (which you can find here) goes into exhaustive detail on control options for the Nintendo Switch. It outlines in detail how the Joy-Con controller technology works for attaching and detaching them to the console, and more besides; we've picked out a few particularly interesting areas.

One that leaps off the page, though as always may refer to a product not yet finalised, is for a Virtual Reality accessory. In principle it's similar to existing options used with smart devices; the Switch console (tablet form) would slot into a head mounted display.

As shown in FIG. 60, the housing 231 includes two openings 231a. The openings 231a are located so as to face the eyes of the user with the housing 231 mounted on the head of the user. Although not shown in the figure, the HMD accessory 230 includes a lens provided in each of the openings 231a.

[0780] Moreover, as shown in FIG. 60, the housing 231 includes an insertion slot 231b for receiving the main unit 2 attached thereto (or inserted thereinto). That is, the main unit 2 can be attached to the HMD accessory 230 by inserting the main unit 2 into the insertion slot 231b. If the main unit 2 is attached so that the display 12 is facing the openings 231a, the display 12 can be viewed through the lenses through the openings 231a. That is, the housing 231 supports the display 12 so that the user can view the display 12 of the main unit 2.

[0781] With such a configuration, a user can view images on the display 12 when the HMD accessory 230 with the main unit 2 attached thereto is mounted on the head of the user. That is, the HMD accessory 230 with the main unit 2 attached thereto functions as a so-called HMD. Note that the HMD accessory 230 may present images of a wide viewing angle to a user by enlarging the viewing angle of the images on the display 12 through the lenses. This can enhance the sense of immersion for a user looking at the images. Note that the main unit 2 may perform a predetermined conversion process on the images displayed on the display 12 so that appropriate images are viewed through the lenses.

[0782] Note that in the present embodiment, the main unit 2 includes the acceleration sensor 89 and the angular velocity sensor 90, and can calculate the movement and/or the attitude of the main unit 2 based on the detection results of these sensors. Therefore, the main unit 2 can calculate the movement and/or the attitude of the HMD accessory 230 to which the main unit 2 is attached, and perform a predetermined process in accordance with the movement and/or the attitude. Note that the predetermined process, for example, is a process of controlling a virtual camera for producing images to be displayed on the display 12 based on the movement and/or the attitude of the HMD accessory 230, and more specifically is a process of changing the line-of-sight direction of the virtual camera depending on the attitude, for example.

[0783] In other embodiments, if the main unit 2 does not have sensors for sensing the movement and/or the attitude of the main unit 2 (e.g., an acceleration sensor and/or an angular velocity sensor), the HMD accessory 230 may include the sensors. Then, the HMD accessory 230 may transmit the detection results of the sensors (or information obtained by performing a predetermined process on the detection results) to the main unit 2. The main unit 2 may calculate the movement and/or the attitude of the HMD accessory 230 based on the information transmitted from the HMD accessory 230.

[0784] In the present embodiment, the controllers 3 and 4 may be used while they are removed from the main unit 2. Therefore, even with the main unit 2 attached to the HMD accessory 230, the controllers 3 and 4 can be used as controller devices. That is, a user can operate the controllers using the hands while the HMD accessory 230 with the main unit 2 attached thereto is mounted on the head of the user.

That also plays into another aspect of the patent, which points to the Switch console having a touchscreen (as has long been suspected), with motion controls also a factor. Upcoming releases such as Just Dance 2017 already made motion controls highly likely (arguably inevitable).

Also of interest, control configurations with JoyCon show flexibility for four players at once, for example, each using a half of two full sets.

So, what do you think about a potential VR accessory for Switch; would that excite you? Sound off in the comments.

[via appft.uspto.gov, neogaf.com]