Nintendo Magnetic Joystick Patent Will Hopefully Tackle Stick Drift
Nintendo is taking innovative strides to tackle stick drift with a magnetic joystick utilizing a ‘smart fluid,’ as revealed in a recent patent filing. This groundbreaking technology centers around a ‘magnetorheological fluid’ (MRF) with variable viscosity dependent on magnetic field intensity.
When a player manipulates the joystick, the MRF thickens, imparting resistance. Consequently, upon thumb release, the joystick smoothly returns to its original position. This concept closely resembles ‘Hall Effect’ sticks seen in select third-party peripherals, renowned for sidestepping stick drift issues due to their absence of connecting components.
The patent accentuates, “The speed of return of the operation element [the stick] to the initial position can be made faster in the controller using the MRF. In addition, it is possible to achieve both presentation of a feeling to the user by the operation element and an operation of the operation element returning to the initial position.”
Despite the patent’s intricate language, it remains unclear if this ‘feeling’ for users could be customizable or extended to force feedback akin to the PS5 DualSense controller’s triggers.
Furthermore, the application of this novel joystick design is a subject of speculation. Will it debut in the Switch’s successor, supplant standard Switch Joy-Cons, or remain on the drawing board? Many gaming patents often fail to materialize.
Nintendo’s persistent Joy-Con drift issue prompted a pledge to repair affected controllers in the EEA and UK, even if they’re beyond warranty. If this patent indeed quells stick drift, it could resolve a vexing concern for Nintendo’s future consoles, as previously disclosed reports hinted at a surfeit of defective Joy-Con controllers in need of repair.