Nintendo's next home console, which may or may not be called Wii U, is due before the end of the year. While Nintendo is gradually unveiling details about the console and its tablet controller, the recent appearance of the console's patent filings has provided an interesting insight into what the machine could potentially deliver.

As with all patent documents, and with these particular papers being dated September 2011, the inclusion of functionality in the filings doesn't mean that it will be included in the final product. With that in mind, Kotaku has been working through the paperwork to find some interesting information on Nintendo's potential plans.

Some details have already been teased by Nintendo in its E3 2011 unveiling video, such as the ability for the tablet controller to allow video communication: services such as Skype aren't mentioned, but this could be an area utilised in the Nintendo Network. There is also potential for the camera and microphone in the controller to provide facial recognition, which could certainly be used in a Mii Maker similar to 3DS, and also for voice recognition software, which could be used for voice-commands in games or perhaps even for Xbox 360 Kinect-style navigation through the console's menus.

The tablet screen itself, which hands-on reports confirm is a resistive touch screen — similar to DS/3DS technology — and has a standard-definition resolution, has been an area where Nintendo has considered more advanced technology. The patent filings raise the possibility of a 3D or HD screen on the tablet controller, with the 3D screen having the option of being stereoscopic glasses-free technology, like 3DS, or potentially just capable of outputting 3D images that are viewed through glasses. That would certainly give the controller an extra edge, though would also undoubtedly add to the cost of the console.

Unless Nintendo surprises us all at E3 with an updated, more advanced tablet screen, it seems unlikely that 3D or even HD resolutions will be possible on the controller. It's interesting to see that it was considered and we can certainly dream, can't we? As a reminder of what Wii U could achieve, below is the E3 2011 unveiling video for your enjoyment.