Game Boy clone from Delft ditches batteries

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Researchers from Delft University of Technology and Northwestern University have built an 8 bit Nintendo Game Boy clone that doesn’t need any batteries. Taking its power from the sun and the button presses, the device can run forever, though with some interruptions. On a not too cloudy day, and for games that require moderate amounts of clicking, gameplay will be interrupted about every ten seconds for less than a second. But thanks to a newly developed technique of storing the system state in non-volatile memory right before losing power, the game will continue at the point where it stopped.

The researchers find games like Tetris and Solitaire can be quite playable on their device, but ultimately their goal was not to make a battery-free handheld game console. Their intent was to further the field of intermittent computing, in which devices can deal with (brief) power interruptions. This would be particularly useful for IoT devices, which wouldn’t have to be fitted with a backup battery anymore.

Credit: Marcel Krijger