New Microsoft patent hints at plans to take on Nintendo Switch

A new patent has revealed Microsoft may be looking to turn smartphones into portable Xboxes with a new controller device that clips a controller to either side of smartphone screens.

Filed last month, the patent itself isn’t for the controller but instead details an accompanying charger for something called “removable input modules”. As Digital Trends points out, the documentation doesn’t explicitly refer to the Xbox system or marketing, but the controller – which has been detailed in sketches that accompany the patent – include many of the features associated with Microsoft’s gaming controller.

Expected to be available in a range of colours, the controller comes in two halves that clip onto each side of your horizontal smartphone. Said to include features such as built-in speakers, a headphone jack, and wireless headphones support, once applied the controller will not look dissimilar to Nintendo Switch, although unlike Nintendo’s hybrid system, it would seem this controller will be used to play games streamed via Microsoft’s upcoming streaming service, Project xCloud.

“Designed for immersive landscape gaming, the controllers come with two flippers that hold your phone gently but securely from the sides, while memory-foam pads make sure they don’t press any buttons,” said designer Sarang Sheth, who has mocked up a number of 3D concepts based upon the patent template. “These side flippers are ideal for phones with no bezel, because this makes sure the controllers don’t overlap the screen from the left or right. Both halves of the controllers connect to your phone via Wi-Fi to deliver a seamless gaming experience that’s absolutely lag-free.”

We recently reported that Microsoft has also patented an Xbox controller design that would enable players with visual impairments to input and receive commands in Braille. Filed almost two years ago, the controller design looks similar to its Elite controller, but its six rear paddles would enable players to input commands in Braille by attributing each paddle to one of the six raised dots that make up each distinctive Braille character and/or contraction.

The patent describes the design as “a game controller with haptic Braille chording capability”.

About Vikki Blake

It took 15 years of civil service monotony for Vikki to crack and switch to writing about games. She has since become an experienced reporter and critic working with a number of specialist and mainstream outlets in both the UK and beyond, including Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, IGN, MTV, and Variety.

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