By David Z. Morris
April 15, 2018

A new patent application from Nintendo describes an exciting new idea from the Japanese gaming leader. It proposes a game system with multiple, disconnected touchscreens, wirelessly linked to form a single interface. The idea could open up some innovative and, in true Nintendo fashion, joyfully bizarre video gaming experiences.

The U.S. patent application, published on April 12, was first highlighted by Digital Trends. It describes a “game system . . . provided with a plurality of information processing apparatuses that are capable of communicating with each other.” In predictably arcane technical language, the application describes information and input sharing between as many as four wirelessly-linked screens, and likely more.

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The application also describes and depicts several examples of games that could make use of such a setup. The examples are rudimentary, including an air hockey-like game that could let two players compete across two screens, and a bowling game. The bowling example highlights that the screens could be placed at an angle, with the velocity of in-game objects influenced by those angles. The spirit is remarkably similar to the Wii, which introduced motion-sensing controllers to the world in 2006.

Another image from Nintendo's new patent application for a multi-touchscreen gaming system. (US Patent Office/Nintendo)

Of course, patents don’t always point to concrete future plans. Often, companies patent concepts or technology to provide some insurance against innovative competitors. So there’s no guarantee that any future Nintendo console will take this multi-screen approach — though the mere existence of the patent application affirms Nintendo’s reputation as a continually innovative organization. And Ars Technica floated an even more tantalizing interpretation of the patent — that the multi-screen capabilities it describes might already be hidden in the hit Switch console.

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