Nintendo Power Glove Achieves Its Promise As Vive Controller

You have to hand it to Nintendo, for blazing the virtual reality trail in consumer products a couple of decades before everyone else, even if the best that can be said for their efforts in that direction is that they weren’t exactly super-successful. Their 1989 Power Glove became little more than a difficult-to-use peripheral for everyday console games, and their 1995 Virtual Boy console was streets ahead of its time but had a 3D effect that induced discomfort in its players.

Many years later though, the Power Glove remains an intriguing product, and one that can be readily found second-hand. The folks at Teague Labs think that perhaps its time has come as the basis of a peripheral for modern VR systems, as a controller for the HTC Vive.

They’ve taken a Power Glove, and through an Arduino Due with a custom shield, interfaced it to the Vive controller mounted where the buttons would have been in its Nintendo days. The Vive provides positional data, while the Nintendo sensors provide hand data. Thus they’ve made an accomplished glove peripheral with a lot less heartache than they would have seen had they done so from scratch.

They show us a couple of environments using the glove, an iPad simulation which we’re having a little difficulty getting our heads round, and a rock/paper/scissors game which looks rather fun. If you are interested in further work, all their code is on GitHub.

We’ve shown you another hugely-upgraded Power Glove in the past, but how about one controlling a quadcopter?

11 thoughts on “Nintendo Power Glove Achieves Its Promise As Vive Controller

    1. I think it was Mattel handled the marketing and sales of the NES etc in the West. After The Crash, an American phenomenon caused by companies churning out garbage games on cartridge for stupid prices, Yanks weren’t ready for another console. So Mattel sold it as more of a toy than a “computer game”. Hence why the cartridge slot was hidden, to make it look more like a video.

      Meanwhile we in Europe looked up, blinked, then went back to playing and writing excellent games on our home computers, which were much cheaper and a better idea altogether.

      On another hack-related issue, the NES had *terrible* hardware design, with the saving grace of a versatile cartridge interface allowing the game cartridges to include the hardware they really should’ve put in the console itself. Hence you’d buy the RAM your system needed a dozen times over, once in each game, rather than somewhere sensible like in the machine itself.

      1. Mattel was never involved with the NES other than being a third-party accessory manufacturer at a time when goofy accessory controllers were plentiful. Jake’s comment was correct. People just mistakenly associate the Power Glove with Nintendo since that’s the system it was made for. The exception to this would be controllers like the NES Advantage, which were manufactured for Nintendo by Ascii to be sold under the Nintendo brand. The Power Glove was only marketed as a Nintendo accessory as were every third-party product at the time.

  1. Now we need this to go viral so I can put my powerglove (with manual!) up on ebay and rake in a ton :) Ha ha I can’t believe someone dug theirs out and did this, pretty cool when you’d expect people to use wiimotes of ps3Move systems or something more current. If someone gets this running with the Samsung GearVR I just might have to make one. :)

    1. Way back when, early VR hackers were known to pay fair prices for Powergloves. The ultrasonic absolute positioning system, among it’s other features, were unique in a consumer product that was available so relatively cheaply and commonly. Compared to, say, what Evans and Sutherland or somebody would charge an aerospace manufacturer.

      Since MEMS sensors, and particularly the Nintendo Wii, though, Powergloves are even more obsolete than they were before. Quite funny actually, Nintendo being behind motion sensing twice, and doing the best job of it both times. Powerglove didn’t take off, probably because the machine wasn’t able to support it. No VR from a 6502 with 2K RAM. The Wii happened along just in time to create a nice vocabulary of movement and human interfacing for it. Mobile phone displays came along from the side, sellotape a phone to a Wiimote and you’ve got a VR helmet.

    1. Leave it to Zuul to pull up an 80’s reference. That was one of my favorite movies growing up.

      I love Power Glove stuff (especially hacks) but never owned one myself. I need to get one for my collection.

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