Nintendo handheld patent
A design image included in the new patent.Nintendo

A new patent filed by Nintendo has been discovered, this time for a handheld device with a touchscreen and a particular focus on its speaker and vibration technology. While submitted last year, the US Patent and Trademark Office published it only recently, on 30 June.

Nintendo filed the patent in Japan on 26 December 2014 and in the US on 3 December 2015 (via GameSpot). This lines up with the development cycle of Nintendo's upcoming new hardware – codenamed NX – which has been rumoured to be a hybrid home and handheld device.

"A non-limiting example information processing apparatus comprises a housing, and a left speaker and a right speaker are provided in a left end portion and a right portion of the housing and in an inside of this housing," reads the patent, available in full here.

"Each speaker is arranged such that a vibration direction of a diaphragm becomes in a direction perpendicular to a plane surface of a display panel that is provided in the front of the housing.

"Sound emission portions for emitting sounds from the speakers are formed in both end portions of the housing and on a side surface at near side or this side that the speakers are arranged. Therefore, sounds are emitted toward a side of a player who holds the information processing apparatus. A vibrator that is provided between the two speakers is driven simultaneously with the speakers or in a predetermined order."

Basically, the gist of all the technical mumbo jumbo boils down to a device that creates a surround sound effect on a small, handheld scale. The actual design of the handheld, as depicted in the patent images, shouldn't be read into all that much. Final products can often vary hugely from their patent sketches.

Also, as always, patents shouldn't be taken as a sign that Nintendo or any other company is set on using any of the technology or designs depicted in them. Patents merely suggest some potential features that may appear. The length of time between the patent being filed in the two countries might suggest however, that it's technology that has had some legs within the company's R&D department.

In December 2015 another patent emerged showing a "self-contained" controller with a touch-screen display covering its entire front surface.

Nintendo's next console will be released in March 2017 and is expected to be revealed to the public later this year. Next to nothing is known about what the console actually is – with Nintendo staying tight-lipped since it first revealed the device's codename in March 2015.

At this stage we're quite liking Nintendo NX as the final product name.

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