Periscope-like add-on could transform legacy Wii controllers

Old Wii remotes may add touch-screen tech

Nintendo is considering a workaround that allows Wii remotes to be fully functional on the firm’s next generation system, the Wii U.

The Wii U tablet controller is built on the idea of mixing both touch-screen and motion control technologies. However, currently the console can only communicate with a single touch-screen tablet, in what is thought to be due to wireless communication limitations.

Old Wii remotes can, however, be used simultaneously along with a Wii U tablet – something which Nintendo may be looking to exploit with a new add-on.

Illustrations discovered in a Nintendo patent filing show how a touch screen could be fixed above a standard Wii remote and, due to some astute engineering, uses the controller’s infrared signals to determine what part of the screen is being touched.

The touch screen, which is stationed several inches above the Wii remote itself, communicates through a series of mirrors like a periscope.

News site Siliconera, which first revealed the patent filing, explains: “The magic of mirrors makes the device work. When you touch the pad, an infrared LED turns on and the amplified beams from the LED bounce off a mirror and are interpreted by the controller as position data. If you don’t touch the pad, the remote works just like a standard Wii remote.”

The nature of the patent filing does not guarantee that Nintendo will pursue the technology and turn it into a viable product. The filing proposes that the accessory can be used as an in-game drawing pad or to add a mouse pointer interface to a video game.

The Wii U will lunch by the end of 2012.

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