While Nintendo Switch offers a virtual reality solution for the Switch through Labo VR, the cardboard kit feels more like a toy compared to others on the market. Now, it seems that the company is taking a more serious shot at VR for its hybrid game system as Nintendo filed a patent for a proper Switch VR headset.
Nintendo actually filed the patent for the Switch VR headset at the Japanese Patent Office back in 2018. However, the patent itself was only recently published a couple of weeks ago on August 22, before Dutch outlet Let’s Go Digital spotted it earlier today. The filing describes a “3D image display system and 3D image display device,” the design of which looks similar to the Labo VR kit, but with some noteworthy differences.
Unlike most other VR headsets, the device in the filing does not come with straps for the players head. As with the Labo VR kit, players simply hold the kit to their face using the Joy-Con controllers docked to the Switch.
Aside from not being made from cardboard however, the device differs from the Labo VR kit in that it comes with extra padding for more comfort. Additionally, it features a molded piece plastic shield that wraps around the users eyes to better prevent outside light from coming into the device. The Labo VR does feature similar cardboard shield, however it’s nowhere near as contoured as the one in the patent.
Now, this isn’t the first time that Nintendo has patented a VR device. Let’s Go Digital noted that Nintendo patented another VR headset three years ago. However, this earlier patent featured a traditional strap to mount it on a player’s head. Why the new one ditches the head strap is unknown. However, the reason for going with the strapless design could possibly have to do with the recently released Nintendo Switch Lite.
Unlike the original Nintendo Switch, the Switch Lite does not feature detachable Joy-Cons. Rather, as a pure handheld device, its controls are permanently attached. With this in mind, perhaps Nintendo intends for the Switch VR headset detailed in this newer patent to be usable with the Switch Lite as well. That said, this design does lose out on one of the features that made the original strapped design stand out — the ability to use the Joy-Cons as VR controllers, one for each hand.
Of course, this design shown here is just a patent. Nintendo may still choose to go with a different design if it does release a proper VR headset for the Switch. That said, what is known is that Nintendo is likely serious about making VR a part of the Switch experience. Last year, the company added a “VR mode” to the console’s operating system. This was of course, before it eventually released the Labo VR kit. Following that, VR modes have since been added to several games on the system.
Of course, the Switch isn’t Nintendo’s first rodeo when it comes to VR. The company actually beat out its rivals when it released the Virtual Boy back in 1995. However, several issues, including the strange decision to use a red monochrome display, and the awkward way players had to use it — having to stand it on a desk after which players then had to look into it. With the Switch however, Nintendo is now playing catch up after other companies, including rivals Sony, have released their own modern VR headsets. That said, Nintendo has always managed to bring its own fun spin on things when given the chance. Here’s hoping that the company’s second foray into VR goes better than the first.