The Nintendo Switch is already shaking up standard console/handheld design, but it looks like the next gaming machine for The Big N might have another technological advancement in mind, too: virtual reality.
According to some recent patents, it looks like Nintendo may have plans to make virtual reality gaming a part of the Switch ecosystem. If that's correct, then the developer will certainly have a versatile device on its hands, one that's built to be played at home, on the go, or even in the virtual space.
The device is currently being referred to as the HMD, standing for head-mounted display. If you've ever seen one of those VR rigs for smartphones, then you know exactly what we're talking about here. The device appears to be more of a shell, with a slot to slide in the Switch screen, sans controller. We know that the detachable controllers can function separate of the screen or even be attached to a more traditional handheld frame, so that should work out just fine for playing VR games. The only other thing really seen in the headset design are the lenses that create the VR effect, again, just like the rigs made by Samsung or Google.
As you might have guessed, the patent explains that the headset will use the same type of tracking as a smartphone to produce the VR effect, namely acceleration, motions sensors, and the like. I was pretty impressed by the smartphone VR games I've played in terms of correct tracking, so not using a camera for added accuracy shouldn't really hamstring the device too badly. Whether or not that functionality will be performed by the controller or the headset is unclear. Remember, the Switch has not been confirmed to have motion controls just yet.
What's surprising is that these patents were filed all the way back in June, which means it's been on Nintendo's mind for a while. They were only published a couple of days ago. This is, of course, when we have to remind you that a patent doesn't necessarily mean anything. It shows that Nintendo is considering VR functionality for the switch, or maybe just getting ahead of the game in case a third party wanted to try and figure it out first. This could all be a "just in case" document that goes nowhere.
Still, it's nice to know that VR has caught on strong enough to have pretty much every major tech player at list thinking about it. Now all we have to do and wait and see if Nintendo decides to take the plunge with VR on the Switch.