U.S. Patent No. 8,313,379: Video game system with wireless modular handheld controller

Issued November 20, 2012, to Nintendo Co., Ltd.
Priority Date: August 22, 2005

U.S. Patent No. 8,313,379 describes the Nintendo Wii system. The Wii incorporation of motion controls into a video game system. Motion controls were not a new concept in video games, but the Wii certainly push motion controls into the mainstream. The Wii utilized a small remote and IR sensor bar to track a users movement. The IR sensor bar would be place usually on top of or below the television. A user would point the Wii remote in the direction of the television/sensor bar, and the Wii would generate a cursor on the TV in the corresponding area. When the user moved the remote, the cursor would follow. The Wii remote used accelerometers and infrared detection to determine its position in 3D space when pointed at the sensor bar. Calculating position in a 3D space is essential for games that require movement along a Z axis, such as a boxing game. Despite the complexity it took to track a user’s movement, the motion controls were simple to understand.

The Wii was a hugely successful console for Nintendo, selling around 100 million units. A big reason for the Wii’s success was the accessibility. The motion controls made playing video games simple for the non-gamer. A person could easily understand that to play a golf game only required swinging the Wii remote like a golf club. The Wii had a significant impact on the video game industry. Shortly after the Wii launched, Microsoft and Sony introduced their versions of motion controls. Nintendo still uses a form of motion control in its current system, the Nintendo Switch, though the system does not require motion controls to operate.

A home entertainment system for video games and other applications includes a main unit and handheld controllers. The handheld controllers illumination emitted by emitters positioned at either side of a display, and information derived from the sensed illumination is used to calculate the orientation of the controllers. The controllers can be plugged into expansion units that customize the overall control interface for particular applications including but not limited to legacy video games. Further, the controllers can be used in one-handed or two-handed modes of operation.

Illustrative Claim:
1. A handheld controller operable in a one hand mode of operation and a two hand mode of operation, said controller for use in wirelessly communicating with an electronic game machine having an associated display screen, a first light emitting marker and second light emitting marker each mounted spaced from, but in the vicinity of, the display screen, said handheld controller comprising: an elongated housing having an upper surface, a lower surface, a forward end, a rearward end and a longitudinal axis defining at least one longitudinal center line, and sized to be operable by one hand of a user; a first set of game controls proximate said forward end of said housing; a second set of game controls proximate said rearward end of said housing; said first set of game controls and said second set of game controls being operable in use in a two hand game playing mode of operation, wherein during said two hand game playing mode said first set of game controls are disposed so as to be actuated by one thumb of a user and said second set of game controls are disposed so as to be actuated by the other thumb of the user, and wherein said first and second sets of game controls are actuated in use by the cooperative action of the user’s thumbs; the lower surface of said housing having a concave portion provided with a trigger switch; a processor enclosed within said housing; an imaging device located in said forward end of said housing at least substantially aligned with said longitudinal center line and including a filter, a lens, an image sensor and an image processing circuit, wherein the image sensor, in use, detects light from the first light emitting marker and the second light emitting marker and generates image data, and wherein the image processing circuit, in use, receives and processes said image data and generates position data related to positional coordinates of the first light emitting marker and the second light emitting marker, and wherein the image processing circuit outputs the position data to said processor; at least said trigger switch and said imaging device being used in a one hand game playing mode of operation, wherein game play is controlled by the user holding the controller in one hand; linear accelerometer circuitry for detecting acceleration of the controller along each of three axes and for generating acceleration data along each of said three axes, said linear accelerometer circuitry being, in use, in communication with said processor; and a wireless communication device disposed within said housing and operatively connected to said processor and operable, in use, to transmit signals to said electronic game machine representing operational states of at least said first set of operational controls, said second set of operational controls, said trigger switch, said position data, and said acceleration data.