Researchers developed a hand-held video game console that does not run in batteries, but in solar energy, so players do not need to stop playing for recharging.  

Called ENGAGE or energy-aware gaming platform, the console is almost the size and form of the original Game Boy, except for the set of solar panels installed around the screen. Not only is this Game Boy environmentally friendly, but also allows infinite gaming.

Researchers at Northwestern University and the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the Netherlands developed this Game Boy, which pushed the boundaries of battery-free computing into fun and interactive play. On Sept. 15, the research will be virtually presented at UbiComp 2020, a major conference within the field of interactive systems.

Ready for a Solar-powered Game Boy

(Photo : Hello I’m Nik/Unsplash)
Battery-free Game Boy

This console will use energy solar energy, instead of toxic batteries, which are costly and thrown in landfills. Without the batteries that require charging from time to time, users can continue playing games perpetually as the console automatically harvests energy from the sun.

“It’s the first battery-free interactive device that harvests energy from user actions,” said one of the lead researchers Josiah Hester from Northwestern adding that pressing a button would allow the device to convert the solar energy into something that powers the console.

TU Delft’s Przemyslaw Pawelczak, another lead researcher, said that removing the battery would make sustainable gaming a reality. He added that they want to make a statement that creating a fun sustainable gaming system is possible with their technology.

Aside from Hester and Pawelczak who were both assistant professors in their respective universities, TU Delft Ph.D. candidates Jasper de Winkel and Vito Kortbeek complete the research team.

Read also: Which Game Can You Play on Your AMD Ryzen Processor Laptops?

This Game-Boy-like console is not just a toy

While ENGAGE seems like a copycat of Nintendo’s game console, it does not have batteries. Aside from the solar panels that surround the screen, the buttons pressed by the user are also a source of energy.

Currently, ENGAGE copies of the Game Boy processor, which requires a lot of energy. Yet, users can enjoy popular retro games from their original cartridge.

This Game-Boy-like console is not just a toy

(Photo : Dimitri Houtteman/Unsplash)
This Game-Boy-like console is not just a toy

Meanwhile, the switching of power sources from the solar panel to buttons results in a brief loss of power. Thus, researchers created software and hardware systems that are energy sensitive and efficient to guarantee an enjoyable gameplay experience despite power failures.

They also developed a new storage technique to save the system state in non-volatile memory, which reduces overhead and permits quick return after power is restored. The game will automatically pick up from the exact point when the device lost power. No need to press “save” like in those traditional platforms.

What if it is too cloudy or there is a storm, will the gameplay be affected as there is not much sunlight? Unfortunately, yes. There will be interruptions every 10 seconds, but it lasts for less than one second. While such a scenario is not playable for action-packed games that require much clicking, users can still make use of it in some games like Tetris, Solitaire, and Chess.

While there is still much to do to enhance the technology for battery-free hand-held game consoles, researchers made a great leap with this project. Not only they are breaking boundaries of gameplay, but also do much for the environment.

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Written by CJ Robles



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