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Nintendo files new controller patent, could possibly fix Joy-Con drift

I’m tired of always going to the left while playing Nintendo Switch games.

Image: GameCrate
Image: GameCrate

When game companies file patents, more often than not, they go entirely unused. For instance, Activision has a 2015 patent on a technology that matches you with other players who are higher ranked than you to drive you to spend money on micro-transactions. Gross, right?

Nintendo, on the other hand, filed a new patent this month that is a little less predatory, centered around their Joy-Con controllers. They’re looking at ways to solve their dreaded Joy-Con Drift.

For those that don’t know, a lot of Nintendo’s controllers have an eventual problem where they will start pushing to the side with the joystick. This makes some games basically unplayable, while most others just acquire a huge inconvenience.

This new patent uses the power of science to solve their persistent problem. The controller would utilize “magnetorheological fluid”, or MRF.

What would MRF do exactly? So, according to the patent, the liquid would change viscosity depending on magnetic fields.

A term you’re likely to see thrown around that uses this kind of tech is “Hall Effect joysticks”, which use magnets to control your joystick instead of older mechanisms and is named after its founder, Edwin Hall.

Hall Effect joysticks utilize a magnetic field that “interferes with an electrical flow from a conductor”. Like I said, science.

If you want to read way more about the Hall Effect, TheGamingSetup has a fantastic article on how it works and what it could mean for the future of how controllers are made.

For those of you who aren’t science nerds, the liquid could thicken or liquify depending on its needs, allowing more flow with your joystick and giving it more free reign to move without messing up an internal component.

The patent goes into a lot more detail and technical jargon. But, the important part is to know that they see the problem that’s haunted them since 2017 and they’re now looking at the future.

As mentioned, this idea could go entirely unused. But, if they do intend to utilize the patent, there’s no telling if they plan to use it with the current line of their flagship consoles or with a future successor to the Switch.

If you’re worried more about the here-and-now of the Nintendo Switch and want to get yourself one, you should check out our buying guide to help you choose the model right for you.

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