Nintendo patent reveals VR ambitions

The Nintendo 64 saw Mario jumping into 3D, but a new patent filed by Nintendo has hinted that the moustachioed plumber could find himself making his way to virtual reality (VR) with the company’s upcoming Switch console. 

Plenty of patents for the new handheld/TV console hybrid have popped up over on Neogaf and one in particular has raised a few eyebrows. It depicts the switch’s handheld display in a headset akin to Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear VR, effectively following the smartphone VR mould. 

While Nintendo fans may be enthused by the company’s potential entry into the VR market, there are still some questions that hang over the device, the largest being the specs. We don’t know at this point much about the Switch’s specs. Nvidia has confirmed that it has created the device’s Tegra processor and rumours are abound that the company is also putting in its Maxwell architecture. If the Switch’s screen is, as believed, only running at 720p, the device may be too underpowered to create anything close to the VR performance of the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift or even PlayStation VR.

If Nintendo were to enter into VR it would be a stark about turn from comments made by Nintendo of America CEO Reggie Fils-Aime in June who suggested the company would not be making any moves for the forseeable future: “With us, we want to make sure our next content is going to be mainstream, mass-market approachable, and when something like VR is at that point, you can expect Nintendo to be there.”

Of course, this is by no means a confirmation that Nintendo is making the Switch as a VR device, but just evidence that the company is aware of the possibility. As we have learned previously, patents do not necessarily lead to a product launch. 

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