Enkey Magazine
Technology information website

It’s arriving Engage, the first solar powered Gameboy


How many batteries secretly “stolen” from the tvs’ remotes and replaced with the old ones of the Gameboy. And then the grandpa arrives and wondered why the batteries of the remote didn’t last more than a week. How many tricks we invented when we were kids to not let “die” our Gameboy, that then the who knows when someone will bought again the batteries. One told that by rubbing them they took back a little bit of charge, or that by change them the place we can obtain a little bit of extra time. Ah the physic of who didn’t want to stop playing. If only back in time there was another solution. But today, maybe, there is another solution. It is called Engage, the remake of the classic portable console, that works with solar energy and it recharges while we are playing, theoretically forever.

Engage, the remake of the classic Gameboy

When one of the most classic and timeless console ever meets the innovation, the “old” videoplayers can only be catched by the new.

Goodbye old batteries, it’s arriving the solar powered Gameboy

Jasper de Winkel, a grad student of the Delft University of Technology, and his team, are the creators of Engage. The Gameboy without batteries arrives more than thirty years after the birth of the most unforgettable of the portable consoles.

It’s called Engage, like the mobile phone – console by Nokia, with which, though, it seems to have nothing in common.

De Winkel tried to keep as much as possible the original design. The Gameboy has the same size of the original one, it has the same screen, in the same place, but a little bit smaller, and even the buttons are exactly like thirty years ago.

But while choosing what to sacrifice, to make place for the new mode of charge, De Winkel chosen to eliminate the audio.

Two ways to charge, a green Gameboy

No batteries, so, for Engage, but two ways of green charge. First of all the solar energy, as it easily understandable by the small panels for the solar energy settled on the sides of the screen (like the ones of the calculators, to be clear). The second method of green charge is, instead, made by the mechanical buttons, the human energy, made by the pression of the finger during the game session, which becomes, so, energy.

Engage, two ways of charge, a green gameboy

The beating heart of Engage is a new technology called intermittent computer. With this system it doesn’t give continuos energy (like it was with the old batteries), but it stores small quantities of energy over and over for ever. This kind of technology was unpossible and unthinkable five years ago.

The disadvantages of Engage

A remake of a classic vintage unmissable for the videoplayers. But unfortunatelly Engage has some disadvantages.

Theoretically the system of storage of the energy is timeless and we can play forever. In reality the two systems of charge have both some disadvantages.

The solar panels, obviusly, need the sun. So to not risk that the Gameboy stops to work on the most beautiful moment we must be sure to play with the best weather conditions ever. Goodbye night sessions, so!

It charges itself with solar energy and with the movements of the fingers on the buttons

Even the charging system through the buttons has some problems. The system greatly works, infact, with the most dynamic games, which requires a continuos movement of the fingers of the videoplayer. Like Super Mario or Tetris, for example. But if we play, for example, at Pokemon, we might have some problems.

All of it get worst because the recharge cycle is only 10 seconds. If, so, a cloud passes through the sky or if we stop to push the buttons for 10 seconds, goodbye match.

But De Winkel thought even at this. If we want a green Gameboy we have to give up something, but that’s not our match. Its creator, infact, put inside Engage an automatic saving system that works when it notices that it’s going to pass out.

But Engage will never arrive on the marketplace. The solar powered Gameboy isn’t a official Nintendo project. It is mostly a first try of the new technology Intermittent Computing.

This post is also available in: Italiano