Today, we are going to travel back in time fetch a gadget made in 1989 and come back to the present and see what it has become. If you’re a gamer you might have heard of the “Power Glove” *insert deep electronic voice* if not, well then let me briefly introduce it to you.
The Power Glove was released in 1989, and was produced by Mattel in the U.S. and PAX in Japan. While not actually manufactured by Nintendo, the gaming company did officially endorse the device. Retailing for around $100, the glove went on to sell about 100,000 units in the U.S.
A pioneer in motion controller technology, the Power Glove works by emitting ultrasonic sound that is inaudible for humans, but is received by special sensors wrapped around the TV, allowing it to detect finger motion and wrist tilt from the user. Unfortunately, the sensors’ microphones were susceptible to a significant amount of distortion due to build quality.
The power glove had many known hardware limitations. In order to keep the prices down, a low digital resolution was required. This resulted in the Glove only tracking finger motion and tilt within a narrow range of the TV. If players wanted to use the Glove with a regular game, it needed to be set to 1 to 14 different program codes in order to get motion to register.
Subsequently, the glove was poorly received by critics and consumers due to hardware limitations and poor controls. Gaming website ‘Giant Bomb’ states that despite the initial hype surrounding the marketing of the glove, “most kids were under the false impression that their Power Glove would offer them unprecedented control over their video games.”
Recently though, the Power Glove has seen resurgence in popularity though repurposing. Musicians have programmed it to be a remixing tool, tech enthusiasts have made it into a blue tooth controller for computers, and a “Robot Chicken” animator even turned one into a wireless stop-motion animation controller.
The animator, Dillon Markey, is the one who caught my attention. By hacking the Nintendo Power Glove and turning it into a stop-motion animation tool he embodied a piece of his childhood into his grown-up life. In the video below Markey explains the reasons why he uses the Power Glove in his work and how he managed to turn it into a fundamental tool. In summary, he believes it’s more convenient to have this tool on him than to carry around a USB attached keypad while working. I totally agree with him. This idea is great, I would love to have one and program it so I could use it during my everyday activities. It sure will make my life cooler than it is now. This is one of the cases where this Arabic expression comes to my mind “الحاجة ام الاختراع” which basically means “Necessity is the mother of invention”. He needed to make his life easier and more productive so he came up with this amazing idea.
Make sure to check out the video below, “Playing with Power” by Ava Benjamin, to see how the Bluetooth Power Glove was created and customized by Dillon Markey and the exciting process of using it in shooting stop motion. In the beginning you will also see the commercial made in 1989 to market the Power Glove. I just wanna say that if I had seen that commercial when I was a kid I would have definitely asked my parents to buy me one!
By Nadimeh Halloum – Mediazone Administrative Assistant