Patent documents filed by Nintendo suggest magnets could play an important part in its upcomingtablet-like touch-screen controller. A schematic diagram shows an integrated magnetic sensor (magnetometer) and flash memory on top of other standard components such as a gyroscope and accelerometer.
While a magnetometer is commonly used in smartphones for digital compasses, it could also support camera-free motion detection and other applications. The extra storage, on the other hand, could come in handy for running mini games on the controller's LCD screen.
Nothing is concrete at the moment, though the patent application (PDF) shows that Nintendo is apparently thinking out of the box for its upcoming Wii U console, a successor to the Wii, whose sales have been in decline. Besides the console itself, the upcoming platform--due in 2012--sports a new controller interface, which is where this technology could end up.