GameBoy Geo Games
By Justin Hall, Thu May 13 17:30:00 GMT 2004

Bringing mobile maps to the masses through a device better known for video game babysitting.


What is the largest mobile gaming platform in the world? Easy: Nintendo's GameBoy. But the GameBoy can only talk to other GameBoys nearby, and only with cables. And it has no capacity for location-based games.

One company sees an opportunity to make a hardware platform on top of a hardware platform -- a GPS unit for the GameBoy, enabling navigation and geo-gaming. This week, RedSky Mobile has been demonstrating their Pioneer Personal Navigation Module at E3.

Using the inexpensive GameBoy as a platform for non-entertainment applications is a brilliant approach to launch more wireless devices. Perhaps something like PacManhattan could arise from GPS-enabled GameBoys. RedSky is hip to this idea -- they've developed some open APIs for game developers to use the RedSky hardware for their own applications. The device can hold 8 megabtyes of pictures and maps that users can download from their PCs. Maybe in the future people will be downloading GameBoy geo-games?

Actually, according to the people at their booth, they plan to move towards a hardware "dongle" -- not a cartridge hanging off the bottom of a GameBoy, but a narrow headpiece sitting on top of the device, so that games could be inserted that use the GPS capacity. Or perhaps maps for sale on cartridges -- Eric Johnson, their CTO, envisions GameBoy-readable maps of California up at the cash register at a local gas station.

His eyes lit up as he described the incredible power of the GBA/GPS combination. Most GPS devices just show you latitude and longitude he points out, but this device presents a color location map, with value-added services like mentioning the nearest restaurant. This geographical spin will be available for a relatively cheap price. "We're going to bring mobile maps to the masses," he said, with a believer's expression on his face.