At GDC 2019 later this month, Google is expected to announce its game streaming service codenamed Yeti. We reported back in February that this effort features hardware, in addition to the cloud backend powering it as demoed by Project Stream. A patent — unrelated to Yeti — has emerged that envisions Google’s take on a new game controller at the center of a multi-screen playing experience.
The “Notifications on game controller” patent dates back to 2014, with the recent filing published on January 31, 2019 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office serving as a “Continuation of application.”
Implementations are provided that permit a seamless activation of a game or other application on a host device from a game controller. The game may be launched on the host device in response to an activation signal that is dispatched from the game controller. The game controller may generate the activation signal or it may send such a signal to the host device for processing. The game controller may detect that an action button has been pressed and generate the activation signal in response thereto.
This patent describes a controller — powered by a processor and onboard memory — that acts as the literal controller for the entire gaming setup. It could feature a display (not featured in the figure below) that would receive notifications for game invites, chat messages, or other related content via an “audio and/or visual cue.” Connectivity between the controller and host device could be via USB, Bluetooth, or Wi-Fi.
Upon interacting with the notification, the controller could launch the game or chat app on the connected “host device,” which could be a television monitor, tablet, or smartphone, according to the patent. If there are multiple “host devices,” users could decide which launches the game right from the controller’s screen.
For example, if a television monitor and a tablet are in the same room as the game controller, a user may elect to launch the application associated with the notification on the tablet and not the television monitor in response to the notification received at the game controller.
Meanwhile, that onboard memory could be used to store a user’s account, brightness and volume preferences, and other settings. As a password, the patent envisions users entering a “particular key combination” using the controller’s buttons.
For example, a user’s preferences may include game specific key bindings, host device settings (e.g., display brightness, volume, etc.), game controller settings, user information (e.g., user name, password, etc.). Game controller settings may include, for example, video/audio cue(s) associated with specific notifications or specific instructions to perform in response to a received notification.
This patent was originally spotted by Yanko Design (via Twitter), who created a render based on the included patent drawings. However, Google’s patent does note how the drawings are just an example that lacks detail.
No attempt is made to show structural details in more detail than may be necessary for a fundamental understanding of the disclosed subject matter and various ways in which it may be practiced.
In general, drawings in patents are hardly reflective of final products. However, this underlying idea is fascinating given the cloud-based nature of Yeti that brings games to any “host device.” Google already demoed Stream running on Mac, Windows, and Linux via the Chrome browser, with any Yeti hardware likely just aimed at bringing the game to a larger TV screen.
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