Nintendo and its interesting patent for rescaling games to 4K

Two Nintendo patent applications have come to light in the last few hours that show the company’s interest in using artificial intelligence for the image rescaling in different resolutions, including 4K.

Interestingly, the patent information comes just hours after Nintendo flatly denied the possibility of unveiling a 4K Switch, and just days before the commercial launch of the Switch OLED.

As gathered by VGC, the patents were originally filed in. March 2020. These describe a process that consists of taking an image, dividing it into blocks of pixels and assigning context data to each block.

Then, each of these blocks is given an “activation matrix”, which is run through a trained neural network. This combination of techniques makes it possible, according to Nintendo, to rescale an image to a higher resolution.

The document, as is common in patent applications, details some examples where this technology can be applied. In this case, Nintendo explains that an image can be run at a given resolution on a battery-powered device.

But when this is connected to an external power source, the resolution of the image is automatically rescaled to higher values. This is very similar to what happens when you connect an external power supply. Nintendo Switch to the television via the Dock.

A Nintendo patent with airs to Switch 4K.

“It will be appreciated that while the example shown, relates to transforming a 540p image into a 1080p image, the techniques described here can be applied to other image sizes,” the documentation states.

And, based on the aforementioned process, it is detailed that the image can be transformed from 720p to 1080p, 480p to 1080p, 1080p to 1440p , 1080p to 4K, and 720p to 4K, VGC notes.

The patent also explains the potential use of the process in cloud gaming. In this case, compressed images would be sent to the player and the device, thanks to artificial intelligence, would be responsible for rescaling it to reduce latency.

It should be noted that Nintendo does not mention in which devices this technology might eventually be used in. Or what their plans are – will it be a necessary upgrade for a future Nintendo Swtich Pro with 4K support? We don’t know.

What we do know is that many fans of the Japanese brand are eagerly awaiting the arrival of a Nintendo Switch with more power and resolution. For now, however, they’ll have to make do with the OLED Switch coming on October 8.

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