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Power Glove 20th Anniversary Edition — Build Video from Matt Mechtley on Vimeo.

Matt Mechtley is responsible for this maker’s dream project: getting a classic Nintendo Power Glove to work with custom games by replacing it’s brain with an arduino, implanting an accelerometer for motion detection, and using a bluetooth modem for wireless connectivity. He’s outdone himself with downloadable code, schematics, this awesome video, and an Instructable to top it off. You may remember Matt from my asphalt mosaics video, or from the many appearances of the video games he works on around the internet. Matt writes:

I always loved the Nintendo Power Glove. Not because it was a fun or useful peripheral — it wasn’t. In fact it wasn’t bad, as Lucas asserted, it was absolutely terrible. Only two games were ever made to work with it — Super Glove Ball and Bad Street Brawler. You could use it with other NES games of course, but it was just an obfuscated controller. Plus, it was horribly imprecise, and since it required a sensor bar to find its orientation, you had to hold your hand at shoulder level all the time. No, I loved the Power Glove for what it represented — a precursor to virtual reality, a way for humans to directly manipulate computers, like an artifact from some sort of alternate future Earth.

I realized one day that we’re actually living in that future. It doesn’t look the same as we imagined it, but the necessary elements are all there. It’s been 20 years now since Mattel released the Power Glove, in 1989. Especially in the last few years, the availability of sophisticated sensing equipment to hardware hackers has grown by leaps and bounds. Technology like programmable microcontrollers, accelerometers, and Bluetooth are readily available — and cheap. In short, the time is ripe to re-make the Power Glove — and make it right.


Becky Stern

Becky Stern is head of wearable electronics at Adafruit Industries. Her personal site: sternlab.org


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Comments

  1. Pelrun says:

    I love the Powerglove, it’s so bad. :D

  2. Elexorien says:

    You are a god among men! Lets see if you can change the output into something that is Wii compatable…. That way All Wii games could be considered made for the Power Glove.

    1. biphenyl says:

      @Elexorien I considered it when I started the project. There were some technical hurdles to overcome, like how to re-arrange or re-wire the buttons, and how to get the bend sensor data (since otherwise it’s just a wiimote in a glove).

      But really, I decided not to for the same reason that the original Power Glove sucked. Using it on games that weren’t tailor-made for it (or at least had custom control schemes) would just be frustrating. I doubt many people would find it fun to bend their index finger to press ‘A’ and their thumb to press ‘B’ for instance, and using your other hand to press buttons on the wrist doesn’t sound much nicer.

  3. Gareth Branwyn says:

    Next hack: the PixelVision!

    1. biphenyl says:

      I was thinking Super Scope but damn if that wouldn’t be fun, too!