Wii U GamePad is a ‘nine-axis’ device, engineers discuss the benefits

Wednesday, 28th November 2012 09:43 GMT By Dave Cook

Wii U’s GamePad is a ‘nine-axis’ device, thanks to its internal geomagnetic sensor which allows it a greater degree of control over PS3′s Sixaxis controller, and PlayStation Move. Becky Oh, an executive at the firm that makes the sensor for Nintendo has shed light on why the component makes a real difference in control.

Speaking with GamesBeat Oh, chief executive of PNI Sensor Corporation explained, ” [The gyro and accelerometer] are good at tracking relativistic change. But it doesn’t tell you absolutely where you’re pointing and where the pointer is. What the magnetic sensor does is use the Earth’s magnetic field as a reference. It can always guide [the GamePad] back to what the absolute position is.”

Traditionally, gyroscope and accelerometer sensors only allow for six-axis motion control, as seen in various devices today. It has become a commonplace feature in devices such as PS3 controllers, Move, and various smartphones.

However, the Wii U GamePad boasts that crucial magnetic sensor, allowing for greater latency and accuracy.

It’s a good fit for more complex games Oh explained, “I think games such as first-person shooters, driving games, or some type of flying game would be a good candidate for this type of technology.

“Sony’s Sharpshooter [Move peripheral] did something like this, but when we played with it we saw it was not accurately tracking. There was both latency and inaccuracy.

“In that case, hardcore gamers would go back to using a joystick or game controllers, but if you had a very accurate way — with no latency or very little latency — to use the gun to point what you’re shooting. I think that does change the way the game is played.”

Nintendo is no stranger to improving the accuracy of its motion-controlled devices, launching the Wii Motion Plus add-on for its standard WiiMote controllers just a few years after they first launched.

The Wii U GamePad is a sophisticated piece of kit, even if some critics say it’s too ‘toy-like’. VG247 has been getting to grips with it all this week in preparation for the consoles November 30th launch across Europe.

Until then, check out Dave’s hands-on impressions with the Wii U launch line-up from a recent German event:

Wii U launch games hands-on: play details from Germany.

Thanks Nintendo Life.



  1. DrDamn

    That’s nice to know, but how does greater accuracy and lower latency add extra axes to the world?

    #1 2 years ago
  2. danhese

    Another name for a magnetic sensor is a magnetometer aka Compass. PlayStation Move uses a 3 axis gyro, 3 axis accelerometer and a magnetometer to correct for cumulative error using the earth’s magnetic field, meaning ” It can always guide [the PS Move] back to what the absolute position is.”

    PlayStation Vita uses the same principle for its motion tracking capabilities, that is why in Hot Shots Golf, you can pick up Vita and rotate 360 degrees and come to the same position in first person mode.

    #2 2 years ago

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