As we get ever closer to Nintendo lifting the lid on its NX hardware this year, patent applications are naturally a focus as we explore the areas of technology that the company has been exploring. Past examples that have been of interest have included a cloud-based computational device and an intriguing portable with free-form screen technology.

Another patent dug up by NeoGAF user Disorientator is actually from September 2014, when it was filed in Japan, but has only recently emerged for public view in the US patent service. There are three filings in total, each for a touch-based single-screen portable device with a key infrared component. The idea common across the filings is that the system's infrared camera can measure distance and objects, notably the shape and motions of a hand; the right hand is sensed while the left hand holds the device.

Some examples are rather basic, such as answering prompts and questions or using different signals to create emoticons on screen.

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Motion is also an input that's highlighted, with easily the neatest example being the right hand 'throwing' a pitch in a basic Baseball game, and then 'catching' the return shot.

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It's worth highlighting that infrared is utilised to operate the super-stable 3D effect in the New Nintendo 3DS models, tracking your face in order to dynamically adjust the image on screen. Patents such as these often contain elements that find their way into other hardware and uses, so like the other two patents highlighted in our introduction this may just have elements of what could appear in future hardware.

In any case, it's another example of Nintendo's focus on fresh approaches to controls and hardware, even if these patents won't all emerge as final products.

Thanks to all that sent this in.