Nintendo has filed a patent for a new form of ‘smart fluid’ joysticks, suggesting that it might be looking to address stick drift in the Switch 2.
As noted in the patent application, which was seen by VGC, this proposed joystick would contain ‘magnetorheological fluid’ (MRF), which changes its thickness when exposed to a magnetic field.
The idea seems to be that when a player pushes the joystick, the fluid will provide resistance, and ultimately return it to its neutral position. According to the patent, that return to neutral would be “made faster in the controller using the MRF.”
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This would seem to indicate that Nintendo is looking at ways to correct the Switch console’s infamous stick drift issue for the Switch 2. With no mechanical parts in these crucial areas, it should be resistant to developing the same level of inaccuracies over time.
Intriguingly, the patent also mentions that “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.”
It’s unclear what this means, but the most interesting interpretation is there might be some kind of developer-stipulated force feedback effect in place. Think the PlayStation 5’s adaptive triggers, but for the analogue sticks.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that this new joystick system will make its way into the Switch 2. With industry rumours placing a launch for the follow-up console somewhere around this time next year, you’d have to think that the console’s design is already fully mapped out and largely locked in ahead of mass production.
Nor is it certain that this patent will even turn into an actual product. Most patent applications like this do not.