Nintendo Wii 2 in development says Satoru Iwata. Release expected in 2012-2017. Could it have holographic data storage?
Nintendo Wii 2. Wii the second. The Nintendo “Us”. Whatever the name will be, it is surely quite far off, given Nintendo’s tremendously successful Wii console is seeing no signs of slowing down.
But regardless of that fact, Nintendo, like all first-party manufacturers, is already in the early stages of development on the Wii’s successor. Although next to zero solid details are known on the project, Nintendo at least openly admits that the Wii 2 is in development, something that Microsoft denies regarding the Xbox 720 (yes, these are logical / made up “code names”). And Sony has made it’s intentions clear regarding their desire for the PS3 to have a 10-year (or longer) shelf-life, which means the Playstation 4 is very far off indeed.
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For reference, analyst Evan Wilson of Pacific Crest Securities has said to expect the Wii 2 will be released in 2010. I would expect the Wii 2 console in 2010 at the earliest, but most likely later since Nintendo tends to extend the lifecycle of a very popular system, such as the Wii that already 29.62 sold million units by June 2008.
Even though it’s so early to be talking about this, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata recently had quite a bit to say on the subject when speaking to Forbes. To quote him: “We are always preparing for the next hardware. We are under development. But the hardware is a kind of box that consumers reluctantly buy in order to play our games. — Every hardware needs some revolutionary features. This time around, it happened to be we had a revolutionary user interface. Will it be the same for the next generation? I really can’t tell. It’s natural for the current customer to expect Nintendo is going to once again do something different… If the people are expecting so many different things from Nintendo, it’s going to be difficult for us to go beyond that expectation again.”
As a result, Nintendo is never one to shy away from different technologies. As a new joint research agreement between Nintendo and InPhase Technologies has surfaced, and it suggests a radical new approach to digital storage space.
So what exactly is this technology? The technical title is “Miniature flexure based scanners for angle multiplexing” from inventor Bradley J Sissom and it is a solution to increasing the capacity of holographic data storage. What’s interesting to us gamers, is that Nintendo appears on said patent as a joint applicant.
So how does this technology work? Well, holographic storage requires a laser to be split into two beams. Data to be stored is encoded onto the signal beam via the special light modulator, before converging with the reference beam and stored onto a photosensitive medium. Reading the data from the medium relies upon a beam being emitted onto the medium at precisely the same angle, wavelength, and position of the reference beam.
Unlocking the greater capacity offered by holographic storage relies upon adjusting the reference beam during the recording/writing phase. Altering the beam allows multiple holograms to be stored in the same volume on the holographic storage medium, which is where the patent comes into play.
The patent reads: “… disclosure is herein made that the claimed invention was made pursuant to a Joint Research Agreement as defined in 35 U.S.C. 103 (c)(3), that was in effect on or before the date the claimed invention was made, and as a result of activities undertaken within the scope of the Joint Research Agreement, by or on the behalf of Nintendo Co., and InPhase Technologies, Inc.” — And a Joint Research Agreement is, “… a written contract, grant, or cooperative agreement entered into by two or more persons or entities for the performance of experimental, developmental, or research work in the field of the claimed invention.”
So as you can see, this technology is for storing information in a drastically new and better way, by way of holographic data storage. And due to all the flak Nintendo has received because of the Wii’s lack of a hard drive or means to store data, it’s no stretch to imagine that Nintendo will not make the same mistake twice. At least, when it comes to the future-gen Wii HD, whether that means hard drive or high definition.
Could this be what Reggie meant when he said Nintendo was serious about the Wii storage problem? Possibly so. Who knows. It’ll be interesting to see what future product(s) this patent brings. — Via TVG
Update May 2009: Nintendo president Satoru Iwata has commented on the future of the Nintendo Wii (and DS) to investors. To quote: “We do not think that Nintendo DS and Wii will last forever. Our internal hardware teams are always researching and working on new hardware so that we can launch them whenever we find a very interesting idea.
You may not be able to believe this, but even when Nintendo has completed a hardware, it does not mean that we will surely launch it. [New] hardware is not needed until the time our software developers see the end in making new software with the existing hardware, or unless we have no more new market to explore and all the potential consumers have purchased our hardware.
The more decisive factor is when the software developers will start demanding for new hardware as they cannot create any more software with surprise factors with the existing one. Nintendo has always been making the hardware in order to prepare for that day to come.”
He continues the above train of thought in a VB interview about a future Wii console, by talking about HD and a release date for the Wii 2. To quote: “If we have an opportunity to make a new console, it will probably support HD because it is now common throughout the world. However, as far as the Wii is concerned, we have not found a significant reason to make it HD-compatible at this time. What is the significant meaning to the users? I don’t think we should do it unless we find that reason. If we decide for other reasons to make new hardware, then HD is one of the things we would naturally add.
With Nintendo, developers like [Shigeru] Miyamoto decide. As long as they are comfortable with the current technology’s ability to deliver meaningful surprises to the users, we don’t need new hardware. However, when they start demanding something new, when they see the existing hardware can’t provide what they need, then that is when we decide to launch the new hardware. As for timing, it may be three years from now, five years from now or eight years from now.” That’s between 2012 and 2017 people!