A recently published Nintendo patent shows how virtual reality could work on the company’s upcoming Switch console, despite Nintendo’s overall ambivalence toward VR. The patent, spotted by a NeoGAF member, describes a head-mounted display that would hold the Nintendo Switch tablet, reminiscent of Google’s Daydream headset or the Samsung Gear VR. The headset, Nintendo writes, could “enhance the sense of immersion” and could either include its own tracking sensors or use ones on the tablet itself. Wearers would play games by sliding off the Switch’s removable controllers, which could hypothetically also feature Wiimote-esque motion sensors.
The patent was filed in June, before the Switch was unveiled, and it covers a range of possible configurations. The patent gives us one very simple visual representation, in which the Switch tablet slides into a front slot, and users wear it with a wraparound headband.
This section is part of a much larger patent, and doesn’t mean Nintendo is developing a VR accessory — or even thinks it would be a good idea. "One technology that I’m often commenting about is VR, and it’s one that I’m definitely interested in,” legendary Nintendo game designer Shigeru Miyamoto told us in an interview earlier this month. “But it’s one that I think that, given the environment right now, is difficult to bring to market in a way that reaches the broadest audience." Miyamoto made similar statements during this year’s E3 gaming show, and company president Tatsumi Kimishima has expressed interest but remained noncommittal.
This also doesn’t prove that the Switch would work great for mobile VR. While it could be more powerful than your average phone-powered headset, it also looks quite a bit bulkier. But the patent does show that Nintendo recognizes the device’s potential. And Kimishima has said that we’ll see more accessories for the modular console nearer its launch in March — so it’s always possible a headset could be among them.