Nintendo patents new controller with magnetic joysticks

A newly-discovered patent may reveal more about the Nintendo Switch's upcoming successor.
nintendo joy-cons joystick patent smart fluid

A newly-spotted Nintendo patent has hinted the company is exploring improvements to its Joy-Con controllers, via a new magnet-based system designed to reduce the potential impact of drift.

As spotted by reporter and consultant Laura Kate Dale, Nintendo filed the patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in May, with its contents being publicly released on 7 September 2023. As Dale pointed out on Twitter, the filing refers to a ‘Hall Effect’ type controller with magnetic analogue sticks.

These ‘Hall Effect’ controllers have been noted as more reliable than others, as the magnetic tech (typically small magnets paired with sensors) means joysticks never contact with other parts of the controller, and therefore are less likely to suffer wear and tear.

Within the patent, Nintendo details a joystick that uses “magnetorheological fluid whose viscosity changes with a magnetic-field intensity and which becomes resistance when the operation element is displaced from/to the initial position”. In plainer terms, the liquid within the controller becomes thicker when pressure or movement is applied, guiding the joystick controller, based on player input.

Read: Nintendo patents Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom mechanics

This magnetorheological fluid allows the joystick to return to its natural state with supportive fluid and guided motion, likely ensuring minimal strain on internal controller parts.

Given the timing of the patent filing, it’s fair to assume this technology may be implemented in the upcoming, long-rumoured successor to the Nintendo Switch. With the original Switch launching to loud complaints around the fallibility of its Joy-Cons, it’s likely a feature that Nintendo will look to address in future.

We don’t know much about the new Nintendo Switch yet, beyond vague talk of a 2024 reveal, but the existence of this patent suggests major changes could be in the works. Stay tuned for more about this incoming console over the next few months, as Nintendo prepares for a fresh console generation.

Nintendo Switch Pro Controller

Buy Now
GamesHub has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content. GamesHub may earn a small percentage of commission for products purchased via affiliate links.
05/16/2024 03:02 am GMT

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.