In 1998, Nintendo released the Game Boy Color. The big selling point, obviously, was the ability to simultaneously display 56 colors on screen, as opposed to the original Game Boy’s four shades of greenish gray, but 22 years later, yet another advantage of the Game Boy Color’s hardware has been discovered: you can use it to control your air conditioner.
In addition to an expanded color palette, the Game Boy Color had another then-significant tech upgrade in the form of an infrared transmitter/receiver. This allowed users to wirelessly share data and play co-op for supporting games, but so few titles used the feature (they didn’t call the system the Game Boy Infrared, after all) that it was often overlooked and is now largely forgotten. But forgotten or not, the infrared communication port is still there along the top edge of the system, and as Singaporean technophile JinGen Lim (@jg_lim on Twitter) looked at it, he got an idea. What if, instead of waiting for the extremely rare opportunity to use the infrared function to play some obscure decades-old game, he used it to help keep his home comfortably cool?
Since the Game Boy Color’s IR transmitter sends out invisible-to-the-naked eye flashes of light, just like a remote control, Lim’s theory was solid. By attaching a wire to his AC unit’s original remote he was able to determine the sorts of flashes it sent out, and from there it was just a matter of getting his Game Boy Color to copy the patterns. Starting with a bootleg Pokémon Red cartridge (chosen because it allowed for easy rewriting of the cartridge’s data), Lim reprogramed it to allow him to send out the IR signals of his choice by using the game system’s buttons and D-pad, and once that was done, he put together a label for the cartridge designating it as National A/C Remote Control (National being his air conditioner’s brand).
▼ Lim took some inspiration from this YouTube video which shows how the Mission Impossible Game Boy Color game actually came preloaded with a function to use the system as a TV remote.
Lim goes in-depth on the specific techno-wizardry he performed on his website here, for those who’re interested in duplicating his project. Between this and those Game Boy Color-controlled Japanese sewing machines, we’re wondering what else Nintendo’s venerable handheld can do.
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