The gaming applications will shock you.
Nintendo's latest patent application includes a number of 3DS game enhancements designed around improving the virtual reality potential of the system. Both the camera and stylus undergo significant enhancement.
The patent application describes ways in which players could interact with the 3DS's stereoscopic 3D images directly. Using a stylus, players could virtually touch objects that appear to be floating in 3D space. A stylus with a "marker" attached to the tip would allow the camera to keep track of its position. This marker could be a fluorescent color or an infrared light, functioning like the glowing orb in the PlayStation Move wand.
The application further describes a wide-angle omnidirectional lens attachment for the inner camera that would allow manipulation of objects near the screen with not only the stylus, but players' fingers. The attachment is not unlike Nyko's Zoom for Kinect. Alternatively, a mirror attachment could be used to provide similar results. A version using the outer cameras or a pair of 3DSes is also mentioned.
A force-feedback stylus is also included in the patent application. The stylus design, which is much larger than the traditional stylus, is reminiscent of PDP's SmartStylus, which never made it to market. It includes the options of a vibrating motor, sound and voice production, a light indicator, a heat-emitting source, and an electricity-emitting source. The application describes modes where the stylus would emit an electric shock to the forefinger or change temperature in response to an in-game failure. More innocuous responses include flashing lights, vibration, and sound/voice prompts, which output near the thumb. The stylus includes an internal battery; wireless communication over Bluetooth, infrared, or Wi-Fi; and power button.
The first game application is a Nintendogs+cats type simulation where players can pet the animals and feel a response in the stylus. The second game example has players picking up and placing soap bubbles. Players must be gentle so that they do not pop the virtual bubbles. In the third example, a user can draw a shape in mid-air, which will then become animated. The fourth game shows two styli being used as chopsticks to pick up and place an iron ball.
Four additional examples are presented without diagrams. The first describes a game in which players can sculpt a statue in wood. Players can also emboss or spray paint items. The second simulation has players preparing food, including chopping and mixing ingredients and handling a pan. In the third game, players must flick a balloon in the air while avoiding obstacles of differing height. The fourth example puts players in the role of a hair stylist where they must cut, shampoo, and blow customers' hair.
The patent application was filed on Oct. 26, 2011 in the US and Nov. 30 2010 in Japan. The listed inventors are Toyokazu Nonaka, Tomoyoshi Yamane, and Norihito Ito. These developers have had support and production roles in a number of first, second, and third-party games.
There is no indication as to whether Nintendo plans to turn these ideas into a consumer product, but perhaps we will see more at E3 next week. For now, you can view some of the ideas in the gallery below.