Microsoft is experimenting with Xbox controllers designed specifically for tablets and phones – attaching to the sides of devices to provide a similar experience to Nintendo Switch’s JoyCons.

Microsoft Research first documented these prototype controllers back in October, and now Microsoft has patented the idea.

The prototype controllers will utilise slide-in grips rather than pre-existing hardware that utilises a standard Xbox controller strapped to the respective device.

This design makes the attachments far more flexible and less bulky than similar devices that already exist in the market.

The prototype comes with three separate parts:

  • Two controller pieces that have triggers and bumpers on the back;
  • Three different slide-in groups to make the two controller pieces look and feel like a real Xbox controller; and
  • A USB dock for charging the two halves of the controller.Xbox prototype controllers2 Microsoft Patent Xbox Phone Controllers

According to a Microsoft research paper published on Windows Central, “the success of the Switch is testament to the value of mobile gaming with physical controls”.

“Mobile gaming devices like the Sony PlayStation Portable and Nintendo’s DS and Switch are dedicated mobile gaming platforms which overcome these limitations via physical controls,” the research paper said.

“A number of cheaper products allow a smartphone to be clipped into, or onto, a modified handheld gaming controller – these include the ION iCade mobile, the GameCase, the GameVice and products from Moga.”

“However, the fixed form of these accessories means they are bulky and inflexible.”

There is currently no confirmation on when, or if, this patent will see a commercial release, so watch this space.Xbox prototype controllers3 Microsoft Patent Xbox Phone Controllers

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