A new set of patents released for the Nintendo Switch suggest that we might one day see a virtual reality headset released for the console/handheld hybrid.
The patents, which were posted on NegoGAF (opens in new tab)by a user called Rosti, show an accessory described as a “head-mounted display” (HMD) which would hold the main Switch tablet in a similar manner to how Google’s DayDream View (opens in new tab) and Samsung’s Gear headsets hold their compatible smartphones.
Though the patent states that the “present embodiment” of the main Switch tablet has the acceleration and gyroscopic sensors necessary to perform head tracking for virtual reality, it also says “other embodiments” of the tablet may not have these features and in such cases, the head tracking would have to be done by the headset itself.
Which "embodiment" Nintendo has settled on for the final Switch design remains to be seen - we won't know for sure probably until we get hold of the console for ourselves.
The patent also states that it will also be possible to use the separate Joycon controllers whilst wearing the HMD headset. Interestingly, another part of the patent depicts the Joycon controllers having the same acceleration and gyroscopic sensors as the tablet, suggesting that they might be able to work in the same manner as the Wii’s controllers by utilizing motion control.
Though the patents were only published on December 15, they were filed all the way back in June so it’s likely that if these features are to be included, the decision has already been made. As with all patents, though, just because it’s been granted doesn’t mean there’s any guarantee that we’ll ever see this headset appear as a real Switch accessory.
That said, Nintendo’s president has teased that we haven’t seen all the accessories that will be released to accompany the Nintendo Switch. The company has said before in reports from a shareholder meeting that it’s researched working with virtual reality, which would see it keeping pace with the competing PlayStation VR, PC headsets and, to a lesser extent, Microsoft's HoloLens plans.