Player 1, to begin insert, well, nothing.

If you’re one of the zillions of people who rely on devices in the course of the day, you know one thing you don’t want to have happen is running out of batteries.

But there’s a new project that maybe points the way toward a future where we aren’t anxious whenever we don’t have a charger nearby.

It’s a handheld video game system that doesn’t need any batteries at all.


The system comes out of a partnership out of Northwestern University and Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.

And its processor is designed to emulate the old Nintendo Game Boy, the portable game system that I played growing up.

So how does it run if there are no batteries? This system gets its energy from two sources.

One is a row of little solar panels on its front.

The other is the energy generated by pushing buttons.

Now there are some limitations.

The screen has to be small to stay energy-efficient, and when there’s not a lot of sun nearby or button-pushing going on, the system will sort of pause in place until it’s got enough power to continue.

While nobody likes an involuntary pause in a game, the system will pick up right where you left off.

Mmore importantly, the system is proof that we can build high-tech devices that don’t always need batteries.

Future models could find ways to minimize those pauses or even power more complicated devices.

Me, I suggest hooking the power grid up to any of those games where players have to dance like the characters on the screen.

If we did that, would we even need power plants?


Devices can be reworked in all kinds of ways, and not just their power systems, either.

We got proof of that recently from programmer Foone Turing, who was able to set up the classic video game Doom through an electronic pregnancy test.

Hopefully it’s just a demonstration of how versatile technology can be, and not a message about the results of such a test.

Battery-free Game Boy runs forever (Northwestern University)

Programmer makes original Doom playable on pregnancy test (CNet)

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Photo via Northwestern University