The Tech Behind The Wii U's GamePad

Perhaps it's not surprising, but what this video from The Clan of the Grey Wolf reveals is that much of the tech behind the Wii U's GamePad is stuff you may already be familiar with — only used in a clever, innovative way.

As the video points out at the start, this seems to be a thing with Nintendo hardware, where they use proven tech to create something completely new.

What I like best about this video is that it dives deep into technical things, but does so in a remarkably approachable way.


    1) I wouldn't call what Nintendo does "innovation". They don't take tech that exists and do amazing things with it, they take tech that exists and uses it exactly how it's meant to be used. Especially the thing about the game boy battery life. Longer battery life is not innovation when it comes from decreased quality of screen. Not that it was important for the game boy.

    2) Capacative touch is always better. In terms of durability, functionality, aesthetics. ALWAYS.

    3) Things have been using gyroscopes for frigging ages. Even for games. Smartphones, the vita, and people writing software for PCs that use gyroscopic controls. It's all been there for years before the WiiU. My anus innovates better than that during my morning dump.

    Nintendo did kind of innovate by putting a screen on a controller, but at least call that as it is. Don't glorify them for using years old tech to do what it was made for.

      Innovation isn't just about coming up with new technology, it's also about combining technology, or using old technology in a different way. The first analog sticks on a controller (N64 and PS2) used the same tech as a flight stick, but those controllers were very innovative. The original iPhones weren't much more than a small computer that could make calls and play music, but that was an extremely innovative item.

      1) Nintendo have been around longer and have introduced more innovation then any other console manufacturer to the console market. It doesnt have necessarily to invent the actual technology just has to use it in the console market first and show how it can be useful for gaming. Things like analog sticks, rumble, motion control, touch screen gaming, are some of the things they introduced to the console market.

      2) Resistive touch screen is more accurate. It may not be as functional as Capacitives multitouch, but i dont see how Resistive touch screens are less durable or aesthetic. Care to explain?

      3) Nintendo basically popularized motion controls. You remember the Wii? It was released in 2006. The first phone to have it was the iphone released in 2007, and the vita was launched not to long ago. Sure the iphone 4 uses a gyroscope and the Wiimote uses an accelerometer but both measure motion in different ways. The fact is Nintendo introduced the concept of motion control to the console market and by doing this they have innovated the console market. After using motion control in games is now basically a standard in gaming.

      Also its not just about putting the best tech out there, the product has to meet consumer demands. If it doesnt it will fail. Look at the Nintendo gameboy and the Sega gamegear . Yes the sega gamegear had a colour screen but it didnt fulfil the consumers need, and that need was longer battery life. Thats why the gameboy stuck with a non colour screen. That is why the gamegear was relegated to the history books and the gameboy became a massive success (until Nintendo replaced it with the DS of course). Some times having the best tech isnt what the consumer wants, and thats the balancing act that successful companies need to achieve.

      After all just look at the console market in the last 10 years. When has the most poweful console sold the most units? Never. Building the most powerful or the most advanced technology is great but if consumers dont need it or arent willing to pay the price for it, then its useless.

      Last edited 06/12/12 8:50 am

      Capacitive is never better. Ever.

        It's irrelevant whichever's better, to me it's neither here nor thether. It's just yet another further tether, of modern major touch screen blather.

      I disagree that your anus is innovative. Your post is both cliched and tired.

    Oh dear, Nintendo fanboy alert

    1.) Resistive Touch Screen...yeah I can see why they use a resistive touch does cut down on cost and that is typically Nintendo's way...I wasn't expecting a capacitive touch screen due to the budget consideration

    2.) Funny he mentions the Game Boy's impressive battery life yet he conveniantly fails to mention the Wii U's dreadful two and a half hour (at least that's what I've gotten) battery life

    3.) You can play games on the game pad you say??? Oh hello PSP/PS Vita and PS3, what is this? You do remote play now? What is this? I can play Pixel Junk Eden, Pixel Junk Shooter, Lego Batman, God of War 1 and 2, ICO and Shadow of the Colossus through my PSP/PSVita...what is this? I can play a PSone game whilst someone else watches something on the TV?

    Granted I know Remote Play isn't as widespread as what the Wii U...but the fact remains that we could theoretically do this on the PS3 long before the Wii U even exsisted.

    4.) Gyroscope...I do believe when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone 4, he showed off the exact same capacity through Gyroscope. Hardly new or innovative by any means when a variation of Smart Devices have had it for a few years now.

    5.) Those tests seem awfully false to me...notice he doesn't show the screen whilst playing outside. For me, I found that the Wii U gamepad lost its signal when I moved from my gaming room out into my living room...which I would say is about maybe 30 feet from my gaming room...yet it still lost the image and told me "Connection with the Wii U has been lost"...and yet here we have this guy claiming he can play outside with it...somehow I don't believe that as a Wii U owner myself

    So yeah, what innovation is here again??? I don't see a lot of innovation here...I just see a Nintendo fanboy

      1)Cutting costs is important too, it affects the price which affects the mass market appeal. Having the best technology in the world wont count for $#!t if no one can afford to buy it. Its not always about having the best, its about being clever and keeping it affordable.

      2) The Wii U isnt a portable like the gameboy or ds. But yes the battery life is one of the Gamepads weakness. Theres no getting around it.

      3) Yes the ps3 vita option was around longer. But lets not forget that this is a very expensive way of achieve it, and because its not a standard not all games will support it. I think that how the Wii U gamepad can be used for asymmetric gameplay is more innovative then remote play.

      4) See my message above

      Innovation is in how they translate technology and use it in games. And yes Nintendo have done it time and time again. They dont have to invent the technology they just have to show how it can make a difference in games, and most of the time they have.

        2.) I think people are too willing to overlook that horrendous battery life. You're right, it's not a handheld, its nothing more then an input/output all accounts this thing should have a better battery life considering that it doesn't need to run a complex processor. A handheld like the Vita or 3DS is rocking a pretty heavy intensive CPU underneath the hood...I expect the battery lifes I get from them considering the processors they're running. But the Wii U is nothing more then an Input/Output device

        If Apple can get 10 hours out of an iPad rocking a Quad Core/Dual Core Processor then there is no excuse as to why Nintendo can't get more out of their Wii U Gamepad...I think the battery life in thing is horrendous and needs to be called out

        3) Expensive way to do it and granted it is a novelty...I freely admit that...but the fact remains that it was still done before...I don't feel that's an innovation on Nintendo's's been done before.

        That's fine and all, but so far I haven't seen one game that truly innovates it...if anything, the whole system feels like a DS XXXL to me. Hey look, I'm sure Nintendo will make a slew of great games for this system...I'm sure they will, they always do....but at the end of the day, I don't see anything truly innovative about this console so fact I'm still relatively underwhelmed by it as a whole....I own one, and like I said, I'm sure Nintendo will make great games for it.;..but as of now, I don't see anything truly innovative about this system and that video didn't show me anything innovative just showed me a Nintendo fanboy gushing over stuff that has already been done in other systems.

          Sweet!! Where can I get a copy of your in depth analysis on Wii U pad power consumption? I assume you understand the proprietary streaming tech used? I'm just happy you didn't say " Wah Wah my Vita".... No wait you did!

            And all I'm hearing from you right now is "Wah Wah, he didn't praise Nintendo, quick lets jump him and call him a fanboy"...Go away

              No, actually all I can hear is someone who knows very little regurgitating what he has heard from other trolls.

              Back under the bride for you!!

                Fuck off have nothing to add to the conversation so please fuck off you little douchebag

          True but the only way you can really see the innovation is when the games actually make use of the Wii U to create new and innovative things. Do you think they have to come up with a new invention or something completely different? No i dont think so. Even a small difference that adds something new to games can be seen as innovation. May not be ground breaking but its an innovation none the less.

          Ok lets be clear, there is no way a tablet device is ever pushing real true HD visuals. It just cant. My 17 inch laptop with a decent GPU gets extremely hot trying to run a 1080p game. I cant imagine the ipad with no active heatsink could even cope with the heat of running a game in true HD. Also Unless the game is like 15gbs, which considering tablets come with around 32 gbs of storage rules that out. Whats the largest tablet game? a few gigs? Just means compressed textures and low polygon count which is hidden thanks to smaller screen. So no while the ipad does have better display it can in no way show true HD visuals. Thats why in can last for a long time, and that long battery life wont be so long if playing a graphics intensive game. The ipad may have an quad core processor but its a mobile processor - its not in the same league as normal desktop processors. Its main goal is power efficiency not processing power.

          The streaming process on the gamepad im sure many arent very clear about may be the reason for the low battery life. I mean its ultra fast, 1/60 of a second response time means almost no lag. Ubisoft have said that it will take others a while to get the response times as fast as Nintendo has on the Wii U. How this will improve gameplay - remains to be seen. Gamepads battery life is bad though.

          LOL there is NO games with maybe ZombiU that really show case the gamepad on the Wii U out at the moment, as most are just ports.

            True but the only way you can really see the innovation is when the games actually make use of the Wii U to create new and innovative things. Do you think they have to come up with a new invention or something completely different? No i dont think so. Even a small difference that adds something new to games can be seen as innovation. May not be ground breaking but its an innovation none the less.


            But that's the thing, looking at that system...I don't know what they can do with the console that they haven't already done with the DS...the touch screen stuff on New Super Mario Bros U felt tacked on and completely unnessecary, Nintendoland far from impressed me with its use of it, I'll give you ZombiU as being the first use of it that is kind of neat but even then I still found myself slightly underwhelmed by it

            I'm really looking at this system and thinking "What more can they do with this that they haven't already done with the DS or even the 3DS?"...Don't get me wrong, I like the DS and I think Nintendo will make decent use of the gamepad and do good things with it...but as far as "Innovation"? I don't see how its going to innovate when it seems that it will possibly replicate some of the stuff we've already seen done on the DS

            At best I can see most third party games simply using it as a Map and an inventory select screen because they'll probably have no idea what else to do with it in terms of their games...Nintendo will probably make some clever use of it considering its Nintendo.

            But as a whole, having the system for a week really does feel like "Oh its just a DS XXXL"

          The pad isn't running any complex processors, no. But IIRC, the Wii U teardown showed that it had two WiFi modules inside - one for networking, the other for the pad. I know that whenever I took my DS online using WiFi it completely chugged down on the battery juice, so if this thing is constantly streaming video over WiFi like that (far more data than simple I/O) on top of the input, backlight, rumble and touch screen, then it's hardly any wonder the battery drains so fast.

          Last edited 06/12/12 4:36 pm

            That makes sense! When i turn my Wifi on my phone the battery life basically halves if its on all the time. Thats how the Gamepad works, by constant streaming the video and audio signal from the Console. Its why you can get full console version games running on the 'almost portable' gamepad. You cant do that on anything at the moment, where its smart glass or ps3 vita (look at the COD BO2 version on vita - its not the same game as the one on the ps3).

              Again...I have Shadow of the Colossus running over Vita Remote Play as I type...that's a full console game being played through an actual handheld...the Vita is capable of doing it (and doing it pretty decently considering it runs over the older 802.1g network)

              Again, I'm not dissing Nintendo...I'm just saying that this stuff is being done else where and I don't see how that alone is innovation on Nintendo's behalf when its already been done elsewhere

            Fair enough, I still think the problem could be solved a little more with a higher capacity battery though

            Your saying the console is using two WiFi dedicated to streaming to the pad and the other for the WiFi module for networking should have no effect on the Pad...the Pad is only streaming video through the separate WiFi module

            Again, with my 3DS, I can usually get three hours with Wi-Fi on playing a ton of Mario Kart...but that thing is also rocking a processor that has to render the game, not to mention its powering two screens in one unit...that's no mean feat but still I can get a good three hours out of it with Wi-Fi

            Again, in theory, the gamepad isn't doing anything rather then recieving a video stream and communicating back to the console through bluetooth...and yet it gets two hours at best?

            I think the problem could be simply solved if Nintendo were to throw in a higher capacity battery because clearly the one in the gamepad now isn't up to the task.

            I just think that's its a horrendous battery life and it bothers me a little to see Nintendo fans just shrug it off...I think that's a valid complaint towards the system that should be addressed by Nintendo.

              I think you kinda missed the point a little. I wasn't saying that the networking would be affecting the battery life at all, but the fact that it's using a power-hungry method like WiFi to transfer the data.

              Online games are designed to send as little data through the stream as possible, but a full video stream is magnitudes larger. I would wager that if the 3DS were streaming that video stream it would last far less than three hours.

                No I do get your point.,..I know WiFi and Bluetooth can drain a battery and I know that streaming video is a little more point is Nintendo should have rectified the problem and shelled out for a higher capacity battery because quite clearly the one in the pad leaves a lot to be desired

                I think 2 and a half hours is ridicolous for this gamepad and I think it could be rectified a little by using a higher capacity battery

                That's all I'm saying

                  Fair enough.

                  The other thing to consider though is they would have been trying to keep the weight down as much as possible, because you don't want the thing to weight a tonne if you're holding it for all that time. As it stands, it's a little on the heavy side already.

                  Personally, I haven't had much trouble with the battery life being what it is yet. I've had the backlight on brightness 3 and the thing's been lasting me a bit over three hours of playing ZombiU before the battery light comes on. Plugging in the charger hasn't really affected things at all, so it's not that big a deal. Unlike the 3DS, I'm always going to be playing it in the vicinity of my TV and therefore the charger.

      I believe the article was looking at the Wii U. Thank you for adding the "Wah Wah PS vita, Wah Wah I'm a Sony fanboy clicking on Nintendo articles"...

      Please go and show support for Sony on Sony articles and not resort to actively seeking articles to bash competitors. e.g you buy a ticket to see a band you like, you don't buy a ticket for a band you hate to rag on them!

      For reference, I have a PS3 and Wii U, both are great and very different. As a gamer, I pity the great games you will miss out on from your Fanboy pride.

      You hatred and insecurity is from pure gamer ignorance. You are nothing more than a console racist. You hate on what you don't understand! (This is not just you, but all of "you" out there).

        Really? I mean really?

        Did you miss the part where I said "In my tests, the Wii U dropped its connection"...implying that I indeed bought a Wii U on launch day?

        Yes I'm a Sony fanboy? If I was a Sony fanboy then WHY did I spend a chunk of money on a Wii U and games last thursday


          Um, yes well in your test did you note nintendo have made it quite clear it's not a portable console?

          I applaud your purchase, but you miss the point. You may have valid concerns, but you smother it with Sony fanboy, which is ignorant. These are very different, even Sony has stated that.

          Your whole whinge about the hardware is pointless, it's all about the games, not hardware and companies.

          I'm glad you will enjoy a very varied array of games in the future.

  're officially an idiot...where in that did I whinge? The battery life? Sure I whinged buts lets face it...IT'S A HORRENDOUS BATTERY LIFE...that's a valid whinge

            Other then that I don't feel I whinged...rather I said "yeah, other consoles have done this, I don't see that alone as being innovative"

            But whatever, you sir are an idiot

            If it's all about the games then the Nintendo Fanboy failed to show that as he focused on the HARDWARE, NOT THE why wouldn't I write a response that is about the HARDWARE when that video was about the HARDWARE

            You imbecile

              Hahahahaha ok let's play in your world! What features does the Vita have that ain't ripped from another device? Name one??? Just one!!

                Back Touch...don't see that on any other device...sure it might not be the greatest thing ever but its not on any other device now is it

    Correct answer is none! It's all just James together with no thought one what to do with it. That is why it's a failure. Just like your life :P

      Do us all a favour and choke on your own vomit

      Or better yet, choke on the c*m your sucking out of Reggies you-know-what whilst he is slapping you in the face like the little b***h you are

      (oh this is so going to get deleted, and I apologize to Kotaku for the vulgarity on my behalf, but this guy is truly a moron in every sense of the word)

    What's with all the hate here...

    -Yes the gamepad has poor battery life which is disappointing considered it was being marketed as being able to play games without the need of a TV

    -yes a capacitive touch screen would have been much nicer

    -Yes the tech being used in it has been around for a while and used in other devices

    But what's important is that the games make use of this technology and features in a way that makes the games enjoyable and entertaining. While I'm not a big fan on Nintendo and am certainly not rushing out to buy a Wii U, I can see that these features could make a large difference if the game devs use them correctly.

      There was no hate here before the imbecile Joe came in to the picture and turned it into a "Wah, Wah he isn't praising Nintendo, quick lets jump him"

      Look I've had this system for a week, and to be honest I'm not blown away by it so far. At best, I honestly think its a DS XXXL...that's cool considering I like the DS but again we've been here and done this before...I don't see innovation here, I just see a larger version of what they've already done on a handheld.

      I don't think that's hatred...I think that's me saying I'm underwhelmed

    But again...all I did was say "this feature has been done elsewhere and I don't consider that innovation on Nintendo's behalf"...but apparently that makes me this hardcore Sony fanboy who is just here to diss on everything Nintendo and get on the soap box

    You really are a fucking moron Joe.

      Hey Daniel, if its all been done before, then the jokes on you for buying 'old' tech and it's games. I have a ps3 and love it - but it completely different to the wii u. There's no question the wii u is a different experience, and if u don't think so, then ur the idiot for buying it.

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