New Nintendo Patents Detail Upscaling Technology

New Nintendo Patents Upscaling cover

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New Nintendo Patents Detail Upscaling Technology

October 1, 2021

By: Robert N. Adams

 
 

Two new Nintendo patents have been published, detailing possible plans for the future of the Nintendo Switch and Nintendo's first-party games through the use of AI upscaling technology.

One of the weaker areas of the Nintendo Switch is its graphics -- it simply can't compete against the Xbox Series X|S or the PS5 on resolution alone (in fact, it couldn't match the Xbox One, and PlayStation 4), never mind all of those other fancy graphical features like raytracing. That weakness is one of many reasons why there have been reports of a new Nintendo Switch in 2020 and 2021. The rumor mill hinted at a 4K model, but what we ultimately got was a new Nintendo Switch model with an OLED screen.

That should be the end of the rumor mill, right? Despite the release of the OLED console, Nintendo Switch Pro rumors continue -- and a pair of new patents could be one of the contributing factors for this scuttlebutt.

New Nintendo Patents Upscaling slice

 
 

What the New Nintendo Patents Tell Us About the Future of the Nintendo Switch

As VGC reports, a pair of new Nintendo patents detail "systems and methods for [machine-learned] image conversion." In layman's terms, these patents describe using artificial intelligence to take an existing image and make it look better through upscaling.

Neither of these patents have been approved yet, but there are some examples included for how they could work. One such example notes that plugging a Nintendo Switch into the dock would allow this image conversion technology to kick in and upscale a game to 1080p. The use of this technology for cloud gaming is also mentioned in these patents.

Critically, these new Nintendo patents note that upscaling could be used to bring a game all the way up to 4K. Speaking of 4K, the Nintendo Switch Pro rumors are still ongoing as reported in a Bloomberg article which claims that 11 game developers are in possession of a 4K development kit. These rumors were expressly denied by Nintendo and Zynga.

"A news report on Sept. 30, 2021(JST) falsely claims that Nintendo is supplying tools to drive game development for a Nintendo Switch with 4K support," read a Twitter thread from Nintendo. "To ensure correct understanding among our investors and customers, we want to clarify that this report is not true. We also want to restate that, as we announced in July, we have no plans for any new model other than Nintendo Switch – OLED Model, which will launch on October 8, 2021."

Do you think Nintendo's upscaling technology could make low-res games look good in 4K? When do you think we'll get a more powerful Nintendo Switch? Let us know in the comments below!

A photograph of Robert N Adams
Senior Writer

I've had a controller in my hand since I was 4 and I haven't stopped gaming since. CCGs, Tabletop Games, Pen & Paper RPGs - I've tried a whole bunch of stuff over the years and I'm always looking to try more!

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