Nintendo Flirted With 3D, HD Displays for Wii U Controller

This holiday, the Wii U, Nintendo's upcoming game console, goes on sale. The Kyoto-based game maker revealed the machine last summer and continues to provide new details about the consoles; however, there is still so much that's unknown.

Nintendo's Wii U patent fillings recently surfaced, providing a look at what the company was planning. The documents are from Sept. 2011, and they do clearly point out "statements herein do not correspond to any particular actual product that may be eventually be made available to consumers." That means what Nintendo filed might not make its way into the final product.

The Wii U features a new controller that sports a built-in touch screen that can run games off the Wii U console. It also features a built-in mic, which was previously announced. According to the patent filling, the Wii U could be outfitted with voice recognition software and players could give voice commands in-game. Nintendo also states that "one or more additional microphones...may be provided on the front and/or back surfaces" of the controller.

The patent filings also mention facial recognition—a feature that Nintendo hinted at last summer. The tech could, according to the documents, enable the Wii U controller, which is outfitted with a camera, to recognize a face—specifically parts of a person's face. This data would then be stored in the Wii U's main memory.

Other details, such as the ability to browse the internet and parental-type controls, are obvious—and already featured on the Nintendo Wii. However, the documents also state that the Wii U cannot only communicate with external devices via network, it could be used as a videophone "exchanging images and sound".

Nintendo Flirted With 3D, HD Displays for Wii U ControllerS

The patent filing does not specifically mention Skype (and this is merely an example), but it sure sounds like Nintendo was thinking of implementing it. Whether or not it makes its way into the final product remains to be seen—or maybe Nintendo's Wii U network will feature a video chat service of its own.

The Wii U is bound to have its fair share of peripherals—just look at how many the Wii has. In the patent filing, Nintendo gives two specific examples of what could be attached to the new controller: "a game-specific controller (gun-shaped controller, etc.) or an input device such as a keyboard".

One of the more interesting nuggets involves 3D and HD. The former might not have caught on like Nintendo, or other electronics companies, had hoped. The 3DS is making innovative use of 3D, but it's still not mainstream. In the patent filing, Nintendo noted that the Wii U "might" feature a 3D display. It also mentions it "might" feature a HD display on the Wii U controller, which so far has sported a sub-HD resolution of around 850x.

Unless Nintendo makes a surprise reveal before the launch, these looks to be features that ended up on the cutting room floor.

The full documents can be viewed in the links below.

Game System, Controller Device, and Game Method [US Patent & Trademark Office]

SPATIALLY-CORRELATED MULTI-DISPLAY HUMAN-MACHINE INTERFACE [US Patent & Trademark Office Thanks, Igor!]