The new controller contains a magnetometer, flash memory and a dedicated CPU.
A patent application filed by Nintendo reveals that the Wii U controller will feature a magnetic field sensor, flash memory, and also a dedicated CPU.
The application includes general specifications for an advanced Wii-like game system, the Wii RemotePlus controller, and the Wii U controller, which is referred to as a "terminal" device. It provides examples, many of which were demonstrated in the E3 promotional video. The shuriken, baseball, and golf demos are described, as well as the Shield Pose demo and an airplane shooting game. The patent application also mentions several possible specific technology implementations, but leaves open the possibility for alterations.
The magnetometer in the Wii U controller, usually used as a compass when embedded in smartphones, is used to find a reference orientation, which is combined with accelerometer and gyrosensor motion data. The patent application details an algorithm used to calculate orientation, which uses the earth's magnetic field as a reference, obviating the need to recalibrate the sensors as is required with the Wii MotionPlus. Sony's Move controller includes a magnetometer for the same purpose.
The Wii U controller CPU is embedded in a device referred to as a Codec LSI, suggesting that its primary purpose is for decoding video sent to the unit, though it may be used for other purposes. Video displayed on the Wii U Controller is known to be generated in the Wii U console and then sent over a wireless connection. The patent application specifically mentions H.264 as a video codec that might be used with the Wii U system. It notes that compression is needed in order to send the video stream, though leaves open the possibility for uncompressed data, given the right technologies. The application mentions using MIMO capabilities of IEEE 802.11n Wi-Fi as a method of transmitting the data.
The flash memory might be used to store Mii character data as in the Wii Remote, or more substantial data. The Wii U controller contains an expansion port for unspecified accessories, though the patent application mentions that this could be left off.
The application also describes the IR communication module, integrated sensor bar, camera, and microphone, all of which were seen at E3, but were not functionally demonstrated. The application notes that the sensor bar could be replaced with a camera tracking system. It also leaves open the possibility for one or more additional cameras on both sides of the system, like the DS.
The patent application notes that while Nintendo's current implementation uses a passive single-touch LCD screen, a capacitive multi-touch system could be used, and a different display technology, such as an electroluminescent display could be employed.
The application also describes the possibility of using multiple Wii U controllers on a single system. Specifically, it uses golf as an example where two people could play simultaneously with their Wii U controllers placed on the floor. Additionally, it leaves open the option for multiple Wii U controllers sharing game processing and communicating directly with each other rather than relying on the main console.
An airplane game example is described in which a behind-the-back view of the airplane is shown on the TV screen, so one player can control its movement. A second player takes control of the Wii U controller and acts as a cannon operator.
Finally, the patent application also details a mode of operation in which the game system cooperates with TV broadcasting, where the controller can display information about programs while the TV is being watched. While users can input the current channel into the controller to download information, the application also mentions the ability for the controller to directly control the TV through either the use of the infrared emitter on the Wii U controller, the Wii sensor bar, or the Wii U controller's integrated sensor bar.
Thanks to BlackNMild2K1 from the forums for the tip!