Switch

Nintendo patents ‘supplementary computing device’, uses cloud to power consumer consoles with other nearby consumer consoles


A crazy new patent from Nintendo has been discovered and it may give hints into their “all new concept” for NX. Its a bit complicated so I suggest you read this highly detailed explanation over on NeoGAF because I fear I can’t describe it in eloquent terms. You can check out the patent application right here.

Essentially, Nintendo has patent a Supplementary Computing Device. This is a device that a game console or handheld can use to increase the performance of their games through the cloud. This doesn’t mean it uses Nintendo’s cloud servers however.

Users, as the patent describes, would be able to let other players in nearby regions use the power of their console to enhance their game performance using their supplementary computing devices. Nintendo would reward these players in some fashion, the patent says, for letting their devices be used to power other player’s games. This would presumably happen when the player isn’t using their console.

A gaming system, comprising: a game console comprising one or more processors configured to locally execute a game and provide video output of the game to a display and audio output of the game to a speaker, the game console including a physical network interface and a wireless communication interface; and a supplemental computing device configured to detachably couple to the game console via the physical communication interface, the supplemental computing device comprising: one or more processors configured to provide, over the physical communication interface, processing resources to the game console to assist the game console in locally executing the game

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This essentially passes the costs of cloud computing (setting up thousands of computers somewhere to do processing for a remote user) off to the consumer. Imagine you have ten Wii U systems, all in sleep mode. When you’re at work, player B uses the processing power of your ten Wii U systems through the cloud to power a higher level of performance on their Wii U system that it wouldn’t normally be able to achieve with the hardware inside of it. Players would be rewarded for allowing their device to be used for cloud computing, as the patent says:

In some instances, a user may be compensated based on an amount (e.g., time, raw resources, etc.) that the user shares his or her supplemental computing device or indicates that he or she is willing to share the supplemental computing device. This compensation may comprise any form of value, include access (e.g., time) to other supplemental computing devices maintained by other users, discounts on games, access to certain game content, points for redemption for digital or physical goods, information for display (e.g., as a badge) on a social network, or the like.

This scenario is said to work for any number of devices, portable or stationary as the patent says:

The game console 102 may take the form of any suitable type of computing device, e.g., mobile, semi-mobile, semi-stationary, or stationary. Some examples of a game console may include a “dedicated game console” in which the sole or primary purpose is to cause output (e.g., visually and audibly) of games for play by a user, potentially with use of a remote control, but potentially without.

So games could still be executed locally, without the need of the cloud. Let’s say your have a DS that runs a game at 480p on its actual hardware. You take it on the subway where you get no internet at all and play the game with modest assets and performance.

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When you get somewhere with internet, you could play the game at a higher resolution with better assets, frame rate, etc. Or you could use this to make a console that’s cheaper to produce while also having performance that is above its punching weight due to the cloud.

An internet connection would be necessary though I imagine all games would have a base form that would render it playable in a less graphically intense state. This sure is some exciting stuff from Nintendo. We don’t know it will end up in NX but they keep referring to NX as “entirely new concept” so this seems to be what they’re hinting at.