The latest patents filed by Nintendo give away some hints that their upcoming console, the Nintendo Switch, may have VR support. On June 10, 2016, Nintendo filed these patents in the US via the United States Patent and Trademark Office several patent applications related to Nintendo Switch. They have now been published today this month. The applications are:
Appl. No. 15/178972, GAME CONTROLLER
Appl. No. 15/178991, GAME CONTROLLER
Appl. No. 15/179011, GAME CONTROLLER
Appl. No. 15/178984, SUPPORTING DEVICE, CHARGING DEVICE AND CONTROLLER SYSTEM
Appl. No. 15/179022, INFORMATION PROCESSING SYSTEM, INFORMATION PROCESSING DEVICE, CONTROLLER DEVICE AND ACCESSORY
Source: Search “15/178984” at http://appft.uspto.gov/netahtml/PTO/search-bool.html
The patent indicates that the Switch screen slides into the headset in a way similar to the current smartphone-powered headsets on the market like the Samsung Gear VR for example. The user would then be able to use the Switch Joycon controller to show their presence inside the VR environment. With the display being inserted into the headset, allowing for head and positional tracking using the accelerometer and other sensors.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out but I don’t see it being anything to get too excited about given the lackluster specs of the Switch if the rumours floating around are to be true.
The CPU power is the same if the Switch is placed into the docking station or being used as a handheld, with the cores rated at 1020MHz. The Switch’s embedded memory controller runs at 1600MHz while docked but drops to 1331MHz when undocked. Where I think it will really struggle to do much in the way of VR is the weakness of the GPU. The Switch’s GPU speed when docked are reportedly locked at 768MHz. Not only does this sound bad enough, but the number drops all the way down to 307.2MHz in portable mode in an effort to increase battery life.
We will have to wait for further news from Nintendo if they are really trying to dip their toes into the VR game market.