In the absence of firm details about Nintendo's next console, the NX, all kinds of rumors and theories have arrived to fill the void. Nintendo has described it as a "brand new console with a brand new concept," and there's been suggestions that it will be some kind of fusion of handheld device and traditional, under-the-telly system.
Over the past few days, a patent has emerged at Free Patents Online for "game apparatus and information processing apparatus." In short, it's a design for a new and very unusual game controller, with an elliptical touchscreen that covers the front of the device.
The controller also has "processing apparatus" inside it, which implies that it'll have something akin to the tech from a tablet inside it. A description of the device adds, "A display panel and a touch panel constitute one main surface of the first portion. Holes are formed in left and right end portions of the display panel and the touch panel, and two operation sticks are provided through the two holes. When viewing the first portion from the front, an area except key tops of the operation sticks becomes a display area."
The rest of the description is even more long-winded, so it's probably better just to look at some of the images from a PDF accompanying the patent, as shared by the lovely VG247:
It's a curious-looking thing and no mistake - and with its stereoscopic screen, it appears to be a kind of cross between a PlayStation controller and a 3DS. Some illustrations show it being held vertically, while a flow chart seems to imply it'll have an unusual means of typing commands and messages by manipulating the thumbsticks. Another illustration has a lizard on it.
Could this be our first glimpse of the NX? It's not beyond the bounds of possibility, but it's worth pointing out that companies also patent concepts that go unused from time to time. But if the NX really is going to introduce a "brand new concept," then this unorthodox controller might - just might - be a part of it.