A team of computer scientists has announced the world’s first battery-free hand-held console, the Engage, as a proof of concept that battery-free devices are a real possibility.
Delft University of Technology’s Jasper de Winkel led a team of researchers by creating a version of Nintendo’s Game Boy that can emulate Game Boy games. While it can’t play sound, it can generate enough power from solar panels as well as kinetic energy (from the user pressing buttons) to sustain itself.
The system that de Winkel created, along with Josiah Hester from Northwestern University in the US and Przemysław Pawełczak and Vito Kortbeek from Delft, is based on what’s called “intermittent computing.” This is an energy-harvesting approach to powering a device that supplies small amounts of power continuously rather than sucking down energy in the “always on” format of normal batteries.
The biggest downside of the proof of concept, aside from lacking sound, is that it can’t run for more than 10 seconds at a time currently. But the researchers created a “checkpoint” system so that whenever the power was restored, the game would start back up where it left off.
To read more about the researchers and their efforts, check out the full feature on CNET.