Researchers at Northwestern University and Delft University of Technology developed a handheld video game console, based on the Game Boy, originally launched in 1989. The difference is that the legitimate Game Boy was powered by four AA batteries, while Engage, as the new console was christened, it is powered by solar energy.
Sustainable and still “prevents addiction to electronic games”
In theory, Engage can run any game created for the original Game Boy, and it even accepts the same cartridges as the console that inspired it. However, it has clear limitations.
For a start, the liquid crystal display is very small, and its solar panels are able to keep it up and running for just a few seconds. This could help its users not to become addicted to electronic games, but it doesn’t seem like a feature to be celebrated. Since energy is a major factor in the device, it is also unable to emit sounds.
With some more complex games, the console stays on for about 10 seconds. This time can increase when the user plays something simpler, like Tetris. Despite this low, Engage saves all game progress when it is turned off. Therefore, you are able to pick up where you left off by turning it on again.
It’s just a prototype
Obviously, with these limitations, it is clear that Engage was created only as a research project, by which its developers intend to study new, more sustainable and environmentally friendly console approaches.
The idea even seems out of context, but one of the co-creators of the project believes that “radical and crazy approaches” can generate good results, even if it is not immediately.
Engage will not be marketed. It will be officially presented on September 12th, during the UbiComp virtual conference. After that, all details of the project will be published as open source on GitHub.