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This Game Boy Runs On the Power of Your Fingertips

Two solar-powered Game Boys, one blue and one yellow

Researchers at Northwestern University and the Delft University of Technology are literally Playing With Power(tm). While the original big, bulky green-screened Game Boy could run from 10 to 30 hours on four AA batteries, these lab-grown versions run on solar and the power of your own button presses.

One caveat — the power only lasts about 10 seconds before stopping for one second, then continuing again. This means playing Super Mario Bros. might get a bit maddening. But Tetris? Oh, yeah, you can play Tetris just fine.

Well, here’s what they say, courtesy TechXplore:

“To ensure an acceptable duration of gameplay between power failures, the researchers designed the system hardware and software from the ground up to be energy aware as well as very energy efficient. They also developed a new technique for storing the system state in non-volatile memory, minimizing overhead and allowing quick restoration when power returns. This eliminates the need to press “save” as seen in traditional platforms, as the player can now continue gameplay from the exact point of the device fully losing power–even if Mario is in mid-jump.

As for the aforementioned one-second delays, the researchers found this not so bad, at least for certain types of games.

On a not-too-cloudy day, and for games that require at least moderate amounts of clicking, gameplay interruptions typically last less than one second for every 10 seconds of gameplay. The researchers find this to be a playable scenario for some games–including Chess, Solitaire and Tetris–but certainly not yet for all (action) games.”

It’s a teeny tiny first step on the road to self-powered portable gaming on extremely miniature screens. No word yet on whether or not Nintendo has sent a cease-and-desist.

Written By

Founder and editor-in-chief of Atomic Lagoon. Spends his time changing aquarium water, feeding cats, and watching old monster movies in 3D.

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