A fierce man who developed 'Game Boy that operates without a battery' appears

The most important thing when playing a portable game machine is the 'remaining battery power'. It's a problem if you can't play the game because the battery level is zero even though you took it outside, but it's troublesome to carry a mobile battery and charging adapter. A fierce man who developed a 'battery-free Game Boy' that allows you to play as much as you want without worrying about such a battery remaining problem has appeared.



Four people, Jasper de Winkel , Vito Kortbeek , Josiah Hester , and Pruzemislow Powelczak, developed a battery-free Game Boy. With a battery-free Game Boy, you can hit buttons repeatedly and supply power with a solar panel installed on the side of the display.

However, just installing a solar panel does not mean that the Game Boy will work without a battery. Energy harvesting has the problem of frequent voltage fluctuations that cause power outages. The image below is a graph showing what happens when the battery is removed from the Game Boy and powered by the solar panel. The game (Tetris) can be played until the power runs out (number 185), but after a power outage due to a power outage, it becomes impossible to play. After that, even if enough power is accumulated and the Game Boy can be started again (number 1), it is normal to start from the startup screen because the game play status is not recorded.

A technology that allows the system to run from the same state as before the power failure even if a power failure occurs is called 'intermittent computing'. By applying this technology, the development team claims that even if a power outage occurs as described above, it will be possible to correctly memorize the state of the falling Tetrimino and resume Tetris from the middle.

'ENGAGE' is a battery-free gameboy developed based on the above idea. The development team lists the following four as four important ideas for making the system work.

1: Generate power from button presses and environmental energy.
2: Enables faster game saves and restores by tracking minimal state and setting checkpoints at the system level.
3: Recreate the nostalgia of classic platforms by playing retro games through processor emulation.
4: Leverages the latest 32-bit ARM Cortex M4 microcontroller and external FeRAM to accelerate intermittent computing. Specifically,

Ambiq Apollo3 Blue and Fujitsu's FeRAM MB85RS4MT of 512KB are used.

In other words, ENGAGE does not remodel the Game Boy so that the battery is unnecessary, but it is a self-made Game Boy-style portable game machine made using an emulator so that the Game Boy title can be played.

ENGAGE is based on an ARM microcontroller and uses FeRAM for its main memory. Regarding this, the development team said, ``There are no cases where high-speed and byte-addressable non-volatile memory such as FeRAM is used for the main memory in a terminal that realizes intermittent computing.'' . Flash memory, which is slow and energy intensive, is typically used for main memory, but fast memory such as non-volatile memory is needed to be able to save and restore the system state in the event of a power failure. The development team says that it was necessary. Furthermore, the development team explained that the reason why Ambiq Apollo 3 Blue, which operates at 96 MHz, was adopted as the microcontroller is ``because it achieves the best energy efficiency in its class.''

As an energy harvesting system, a commercially available

button press generator and solar panel are used in the button part. The button press generator is used in the cross key and the A / B button part, and it is possible to generate power when each button is pressed. In addition, it seems that the solar panel is managed by ' BQ25570 ' which is a power management chip of Texas Instruments.

The display uses ' LPM013M126A ', a liquid crystal made by Japan Display. While the original Game Boy's display was 47mm x 43mm and had a resolution of 160 x 144 pixels, the LPM013M126A is smaller at 26.02mm x 27.82mm but has a slightly better resolution of 176 x 176 pixels.

The image below is the board of ENGAGE.

The parts used in various parts of the board are as follows.

A: Ambiq Apollo3 Blue

ZF AFIG-0007
E: Micro USB port for debugging
F: Display connector
G: Solar panel connector
H: cartridge interface
I: BQ25570
J: TPS61099

A video of Hester, one of the development team, talking about ENGAGE has also been released.

The Next Gaming Revolution Starts With a Battery-Free Game Boy-YouTube

Mr. Hester describes ENGAGE as 'a system that will be the beginning of true smart devices for the development of sustainable future computing and IoT.' The biggest feature of ENGAGE is that it harvests energy from the environment, specifically generating electricity from solar panels and button generators. A magnet is attached to the button, and the magnetic field is changed by passing the coil through, and power is supplied from here. 'The amount of energy generated will change depending on how often you press the button,' says Hester.

However, since the power supply is not stable in this system, the power supply of the terminal will soon turn off. However, because it uses an intermittent computing system, even if the power goes out, the game data before it goes off is saved, and the data can be restored immediately when the power is restored. This is achieved by a non-volatile memory called FeRAM, which can save data even when the power is turned off.

Mr. Hester explains the reason why he developed ENGAGE, 'To encourage you to review all the assumptions such as 'What is computing? Where does the energy for computing come from?' ``Now that the effects of global warming and climate change are becoming unignorable, humanity should focus on renewable energy, reduce its footprint, and seek ways to create more sustainable devices.'' I was.

There are far more mobile phones than there are people on the planet, and a huge amount of fresh water is required to manufacture the lithium-ion batteries used as batteries. However, Hester points out that the production of lithium-ion batteries has a large environmental impact because there is a serious water shortage in areas where lithium, which is a material for lithium-ion batteries, can be extracted. In addition, lithium-ion batteries also have the problem of being discarded after use. In order to deal with such problems, Hester's development team created ENGAGE.

In addition to games, ENGAGE can be applied to various terminals such as wearable terminals such as Fitbit and smart watches, and embedded devices.

in Hardware,   Video,   Game, Posted by logu_ii