Nintendo NX controller may use Free-Form Display tech to go beyond your thumbs

Nintendo patents are sprouting up like weeds. Yesterday we showed you ideas the House That Mario Built had for creating a network of devices to "increase the speed or quality of a user's gaming experience," and today a newly uncovered patent might give us the first look at the Nintendo NX controller.

Patent application 20150355768 reveals a handheld device with a built-in, oblong screen that takes up the entire face of the device, and is capable of motion and touch-based controls. It has two clickable thumbsticks, two shoulder buttons, handle grips, and a card slot. What makes this particular patent interesting is how these aspects all come together and where they're placed.

There are no traditional face buttons, as the display in question would show context-sensitive prompts depending on what was happening in game. Imagine holding a controller where the X button only appears when you need it and you're getting the idea. For a better sense of how this would work, compare the two images below, where a giant iguana who don't want no trouble is accosted by a rotund cartoon humanoid.

The thumbsticks are also notable, as they rest within the edges of the screen, meaning the display wraps around them. It's a technology known as "Free-Form Display," initially revealed in summer 2014 and shown off again at CES 2015. Japanese news agency Kyodo reported Nintendo as one of Sharp's first business partners for the new tech, so it would make sense for it to show up in patents for the NX.

Don't forget the usual disclaimers: just because this has shown up in a patent doesn't mean it will show up in the real world, and even if it does, it may look or perform considerably different than is depicted here. Nintendo plans to release more official information on NX in 2016.

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