The controller for Nintendo’s new console, the Wii U, combines a touchscreen with buttons and analogue sticks to create an interface that’s a cross between a tablet and more traditional gaming systems. Players will also be able to use their old Wii remotes, but a recently published patent application suggests these may also be getting an upgrade with the addition of a touchpad.
Current Wii remotes contain an infrared (IR) sensor that detects the position of an IR beam mounted on your television – that’s what lets you point and click at objects on the screen. Nintendo’s patent describes a touchpad add-on that slips over the existing remote and uses the IR sensor in a similar way.
Players touch the pad with an IR stylus, the light of which is reflected off a half-mirror angled towards the IR sensor, which detects the stylus’ position. The half-mirror means the Wii remote can also be used normally, as TV-mounted IR beam will still get through to the sensor. The patent also suggests that the touchpad could also be illuminated when pressed by a player’s finger, eliminating the need for a stylus.