Nintendo has recently filed several new patents: one of them concerns a new joystick that uses a magnetic fluid to register movement.
The patent can be found here. If the Japanese company does indeed introduce this technology, the successor to the Nintendo Switch could be rid of a flaw that has been noticeable on the platform almost since its inception in 2017. One has to think of drifting, i.e., when the Joy-Con’s analog stick tends to move us in one direction, even though we no longer give it input. Nintendo has had plenty of problems with it and has offered to repair it under warranty to avoid paying damages for class-action lawsuits.
Nintendo’s new controller might use the Hall effect. Nowadays, most analog sticks have a potentiometer that uses actual physical, electrical contacts to register movement but is therefore prone to wear. Analog sticks with the Hall effect use a magnetic field to detect movement without physical contact, so they are not affected by wear problems. However, none of the prominent companies use the technology, with Sony and Microsoft using the traditional method in DualSense and the Xbox controller, respectively. Some third-party manufacturers are already trying it.
Here’s the patent’s description: “This information processing system includes – a controller including an operation element to be displaced from an initial position by a user’s operation, a restoring force imparting section applying a restoring force for returning the displaced operation element to the initial position, a resistance section using a magnetorheological fluid whose viscosity changes with the magnetic-intensity and which becomes resistant when the operation element is displaced from/to the initial position, and a magnetic field generation section which provides the magnetic field to the magnetorheological fluid; and a circuit capable of controlling the magnetic field generation section. The circuit controls a magnetic-field intensity so the viscosity of the magnetorheological fluid periodically changes at least between a first viscosity state and a second viscosity state in which the viscosity is lower than the first viscosity state so that the operation element returns to the initial position by the restoring force.”
The other day, we wrote about the successor to the Nintendo Switch, where at a closed-door presentation at Gamescom, the Japanese company was said to be running The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It could be an exciting platform.