Microsoft has plans for a touchscreen games controller

Think of the words 'Microsoft' and 'games controller', and it's probably an Xbox or Xbox One controller that springs to mind. But a patent that has just come to light shows that Microsoft could well have plans for a touchscreen controller in the pipeline.

The patent describes a touchscreen games controller that sounds very much like the on-screens controls that are found in many mobile games. It describes a future device:

"...controlling a game with a mobile touch-enabled device. A thumbstick and a mode selection button can be rendered on a display of the mobile touch-enabled device. The thumbstick can be rendered on a reassignable area of the display and the mode selection button can be rendered on a mode selection area of the display."

The "reassignable area of the display" sounds particularly interesting as it implies that different button layouts will be possible. The patent was originally filed back at the end of 2011 and was published in March this year to little fanfare. There's no hint about when, or even if, the patent will be used to creat.e a piece of hardware, but it's a device that has huge potential

It is likely that the patent refers to a new, yet-to-be-released touchscreen controller, but there is no reason to think that the software could not be ported to Windows Phone -- could your handset be used to control Xbox One games?

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