Engage is a solar & mechanical-powered handheld inspired by Game Boy

Netherlands engineers solar energy mechanical energy Game Boy Engage portable video game device Jasper de Winkel, Josiah Hester, Przemys?aw Pawe?czak, Vito Kortbeek

Computer scientists Jasper de Winkel, Przemyslaw Pawelczak, and Vito Kortbeek from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands and Josiah Hester from Northwestern University have designed a pretty awesome handheld gaming machine. Inspired by Game Boy and called the “Engage,” it is a battery-free machine that generates all of its required power from solar energy and the mechanical energy of pressing its buttons.

As CNET reports, Engage is the product of years of research into energy harvesting and “intermittent computing,” and it will be formally unveiled on Sept. 12 at the 2020 virtual UbiComp, “an annual conference run by the Association for Computing Machinery.” The purpose of the console is to prove that portable battery-free gaming is feasible, which could have (positive, for once) ramifications for the environment in the future.

Engage is also just a cool little device to stare at, and it was consciously designed to mimic the original Game Boy visually. With some Game Boy emulation techniques tossed in, it also plays Game Boy games. Although, being a proof of concept, the system has some pronounced limitations. For starters, it has no sound — bummer.

Beyond that, the idea of intermittent computing is to provide energy in short bursts. And in the case of Engage, power to the device will last all of 10 seconds at a time. However, when it powers down, mashing buttons should pretty instantly revive the device exactly where you left off.

It sounds wildly tedious — but still extremely promising for nascent technology. Likewise, the device’s “checkpoint” technology for constantly saving progress ensures that your game data will never be lost, ever. The seeds for some really exciting technology have been planted here. Now we wait and see what grows from this.

Let us know what you think of this cool piece of new tech inspired by Game Boy.


John Friscia
Head Copy Editor for Enthusiast Gaming, Managing Editor at The Escapist. I'm a writer who loves Super Nintendo and Japanese role-playing games to an impractical degree. I really miss living in South Korea. And I'm developing the game Boss Saga!