New Nintendo Switch patents show that the Joy Con controller is ingeniously designed

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After further analyzing the contents of the patents Nintendo filed yesterday, I’ve come to one conclusion: the Joy Con controller’s design is ingenious.

The left and right Joy Con (yeah, the plural has no ‘s’, it’s kind of weird) have a ton of features packed into them.

Let’s take a closer look.


Shoulder buttons

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The patent filings suggest that figures 43 and 44 that are shown on this image of the left Joy Con are actually additional shoulder buttons called L and R.

They can be used when holding the controller on its side, and offer more gameplay possibilities than a sideways Wii Remote did, while also being more comfortable.

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By using a different grip so that the thumb is on the Joy Con’s regular R shoulder button while the ring and index fingers access buttons its side may open the door to some new gameplay experiences.

The follwing image shows what it would look like.

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Maybe Nintendo will be using this for VR, considering that another one of their patents is for some kind of Switch VR headset.

What’s also interesting about the Joy Con’s design is that these shoulder buttons are hidden when the controller is in its grip or attached to the Switch “tablet”.


Different ways to play

Of course, according to most gamers, the best way to play the Switch will be via the Pro Controller or by using the Joy Con Grip.

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What’s awesome, though, is that in addition being able to use the Grip for the Joy Con, the controllers can be held separately, WiiMote-Nunchuk style, like that guy in the plane does in the Switch reveal trailer.plane

The patents also confirm the the right Joy Con has an IR pointer, which is identified as figure 68 in the image below. Keep in mind that the left Joy Con does not have an IR pointer.

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This IR pointer “detects hand movement or gestures”, which also means that the controller can work like a Wii Remote.

That means that it can be used for motion-controlled multiplayer, single player and possibly, as mentioned earlier, VR.

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Considering that the Joy Con can also be held on its side, as mentioned earlier, the Switch offers a large variety of gameplay experiences right out of the box.

Oh, and Nintendo might be making different Joy Con models, too.

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I’m willing to bet that we’ll be seeing special versions for different games, as well. Imagine a GameCube controller for Smash Bros, or some kind of camera-like Joy Con for the next Pokémon Snap. The possibilities are nearly endless, and Nintendo seems to be working towards a more modular future.


How “switching” works

The console’s “switching” mechanism is definitely quite fascinating. The patents explain how it works.

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The circular part that is circled in the above image is actually an indent which allows the Joy Con to lock itself into the tablet.

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The controllers can be detached from the tablet by using the button circled in the image below.

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The Joy Con controllers also consume less battery when attached to the tablet or the grip because of a “terminal” that connects the controller to those accessories via “wired communication”. The terminal is circled in the image below.

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As you can see, the Joy Con terminal lines up with a similar part on the tablet.

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The “switching” mechanism is brilliantly designed, as is the Joy Con, in general.


One question remains: is the Joy Con comfortable to hold when it’s placed sideways?

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It looks kind of cramped, but maybe it’s not as bad as it seems.

What do you think?

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