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Details of Nintendo Wii U tablet controller surface

Patent filing highlights Nintendo's plans
Mon Aug 15 2011, 12:04

DETAILS OF WHAT'S INSIDE Nintendo's Wii U tablet controller have surfaced in a patent filing, giving us an insight into what to expect from the next generation console in 2012.

A diagram in the filing shows that the controller will have a touch panel, touch panel controller, analogue stick, magnetic sensor, acceleration sensor, gyrosensor, camera, speaker, microphone, wireless module, infrared connection module, CPU, internal memory and flash memory.

The sheer volume of sensors shows how important the idea of motion control still is to Nintendo. The Wii U is very similar to the original Wii, but Nintendo is attempting to up the ante by bringing more motion control into a family's living room, without directly competing with the full body capture of Microsoft's Kinect.

A camera and microphone were to be expected, since a preview showed users of the device able to communicate with one another, both visually and verbally, much like Nintendo's handheld DSi, which launched in 2008. This is likely to be one of the major selling points of the device, since the Wii lacks the camera functionality that the Kinect has.

The fact that there are two mentions of memory is interesting. Flash memory is listed entirely separately to the internal memory, and Nintendo writes in the filing, "When the terminal device is started up, a program stored in the flash memory is read out to the internal memory and executed by the CPU upon power up."

This suggests a certain amount of game data will be stored on the controller. The space required will likely have to be big, considering Nintendo is intending to offer full high-definition gaming for the Wii U. The paltry storage for Miis on current Wii controllers will likely not cut it for the Wii U. There's also the possibility that the flash memory could be slotted or upgraded by the player, but there's no specific mention of this in the filing.

The patent, US number 20110190052, was filed on 2 February and approved on 4 August. The Wii U will launch next year, most likely in the run up to the Christmas shopping season. µ


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