The newly unveiled handheld console, 3DS, has once again demonstrated Nintendo’s innovation in hardware, and it could be showing mobile phone manufacturers the way forwards. Let’s look at Nintendo’s history of innovation in controls:
- The “D-Pad” (first appeared on the NES console, 1983)
- Wireless controllers (NES, 1989)
- Vibration feedback ( N64, 1997)
- Touch control (Nintendo DS, 2002)
- Motion sensor controls (Wii, 2006)
Nintendo did not necessarily invent all of these technologies, but it certainly popularized them, and every single one of these features are now commonplace in both games hardware and mobile phones.
Nintendo does not innovate for the sake of innovation – these controls were created with the user experience in mind, and were always released with new titles (“apps” to use the mobile buzzword du jour) which used the feature to add to the experience, such as the Wii controller and the feeling of playing “real” sports.
So, what has Nintendo done with its new handheld, the 3DS?
- There’s a 3D screen which does not require glasses
- There are not one but two external cameras. Why? Because with 2 cameras you can shoot 3D video
- There’s automatic data exchange (cloud based computing) and an accelerometer which are new features for Nintendo handhelds but old news for mobile phones, and of course the touch screen of the original Nintendo DS remains
Really it’s the 3D that sets this apart. The 3D screen does not require glasses, although it does require the user to sit at a particular angle to view the 3D effect. On a TV with a roomful of people watching, this is a problem, but for a handheld personal device, this is not an issue. Expect to see this in phones in the next 2-3 years.
Shooting 3D video is really something quite remarkable. Due to the size of the device, the cameras are by necessity rather close together, so the 3D effect may not be terribly noticeable. However, the 3DS should retail at sub-$300, and likely will come down to a sub-$200 price point during its lifespan. Price points for current 3D camera setups are not even in the right ballpark for consumer products today, so the 3DS is something of a revolution. Yet again, Nintendo has shown us the way and in the near future we could all be shooting 3D video with our phones.
The 3D viewing revolution is coming, and it's being orchestrated by a plumber.