Nintendo Files Patent For What Looks Like a Hinged Joy-Con

Nintendo Files Patent For What Looks Like a Hinged Joy-Con

If your hands get stiff while playing your Switch in handheld mode, maybe Joy-Cons like these could help.

Though they come in many colors, Nintendo hasn't experimented with the actual form and function of the Switch's Joy-Cons since the hybrid console's release in 2017. But perhaps that will change soon. Nintendo recently filed a Japanese patent showing what appear to be hinged a Joy-Con, suggesting that the company isn't opposed to exploring different variations on the ergonomics of their unique controllers.

The patent diagrams show three different hinged variants of the familiar left and right Joy-Con designs (at least for the purpose of these illustrations, which do not need to reflect a final product, the buttons and thumbsticks all appear to be in the same relative placements as on retail Joy-Cons). One variant is depicted with a single hinge point along the rail that slots into the body of the Switch, located at the midpoint between where the facebuttons and thumbstick lay on a Joy-Con. This hinge would allow for pivoting the top of the Joy-Con away from the user at a shallow angle.

An alternate version of this same design shows a protrusion from the back of the Joy-Con below the single hinge, perhaps an added grip element. The most out-there looking illustration shows a Joy-Con with a single hinge and additional lines suggesting further flexibility or articulation, creating a smooth curve along the entire body of the Joy-Con.

Let's hope these hinges wouldn't drift too. | Nintendo

At a glance, these designs also look to be a bit wider than the stock Joy-Cons, and indeed it's hard to see how any articulated elements could be added to a Joy-Con as-is without bulking them up a little. Being able to simply pop a Joy-Con off the Switch's rails makes simple variations on the design seem straightforward, like adding a proper d-pad (which Nintendo says it won't do). On the flip side, these illustrations suggest that in order to accomodate a different form factor, Nintendo would have to get creative with how a new Joy-Con shape slides into the Switch tablet's straight rails.

Nintendo's certainly open to tweaking the standards of the Switch platform and its controls, as the new Switch Lite comes without HD rumble or an IR camera, and features Joy-Cons that are permanently attached. If Nintendo does release different Joy-Cons down the line and they're of a significantly different shape, then they could be incompatible with Labo and peripherals like the Joy-Con steering wheel. There's also the question of whether new Joy-Cons would be any less susceptible to the issue of Joy-Con drift. If regular use is enough to quickly wear out the thumbsticks on a regular Joy-Con, you'd hope a variant with additional moving parts would be quite a bit sturdier.

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Mathew Olson


Mathew Olson is a writer formerly of Digg, where he blogged and reported about all things under the umbrella of internet culture (including games, of course). He lives in New York, grew up under rain clouds and the influence of numerous games studios in the Pacific Northwest, and will talk your ear off about Half-Life mods, Talking Heads or Twin Peaks if you let him.

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