A clue to the next step for Nintendo in the gaming market has surfaced. It comes in the form of a US patent application that suggests a handheld machine that operates in a similar way to the Wii may be in the pipeline.

The application was discovered here . It describes a handheld that may or may not be similar to the DS Lite with motion-sensing sensors operating in three dimensions.

Impact detection

If the patent filing represents actual research, Nintendo's engineers appear to be working on a games machine that can detect motion in X, Y and Z axes, as well as acceleration and degree of virtual impact.

Plenty of similar, albeit simpler, games exist already, such as those on some recent Japanese phones . Although it's difficult to imagine how the more complex games found on the Wii could be ported to work on a handheld device.

It's one thing looking at an all-action sports game on a fixed TV screen. But quite another when the gameplay is actually unfolding on the controller you're waving about in your hand.