Power Glove

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"Powerglove" redirects here. For the American band, see Powerglove (band).
For the Australian electronic music duo, see Power Glove (band).
Power Glove
NES-Power-Glove.jpg
The American Power Glove, manufactured by Mattel
Manufacturer Mattel, PAX
Type Video game controller
Generation Third generation era
Connectivity Serial port

The Power Glove is a controller accessory for the Nintendo Entertainment System. The Power Glove was not popular and was criticized for its imprecise and difficult-to-use controls.[1]

Development[edit]

The Power Glove was originally released in 1989.[2] Though it was an officially licensed product, Nintendo was not involved in the design or release of this accessory. Rather, it was designed by Grant Goddard and Samuel Cooper Davis for Abrams/Gentile Entertainment (AGE), made by Mattel in the United States[2] and PAX in Japan. Additional development was accomplished through the efforts of Thomas G. Zimmerman and Jaron Lanier, a virtual reality pioneer responsible for co-developing and commercializing the DataGlove[3] who had made a failed attempt at a similar design for Nintendo earlier. Mattel brought in Hal Berger Masters of the Maze[4] and Gary Yamron to develop the raw technology into a functional product. The exterior, industrial design, and form & functional prototypes were designed by Image Design and Marketing's Hal Berger and Gary Yamron. [5] [6] The Power Glove and DataGlove were based on Zimmerman's instrumented glove.[7] Zimmerman built the first prototype that demonstrated finger flex measurement and hand position tracking using a pair of ultrasonic transmitters. His original prototype used optical flex sensors to measure finger bending which were replaced with less expensive carbon-based flex sensors by the AGE team.

Design and functionality[edit]

The American Power Glove with receivers

The glove has traditional NES controller buttons on the forearm as well as a program button and buttons labeled 0-9.The user presses the program button and a numbered button to input commands, such as changing the firing rate of the A and B buttons. Along with the controller, the player can perform various hand motions to control a character on-screen.

The sensors in the Power Glove are based on optical fibers that are scratched near the bending joint to cause it to transmit less light when bent, an innovation developed by Young L. Harvill[8] of VPL Research. There are two ultrasonic speakers (transmitters) in the glove and three ultrasonic microphones (receivers) around the TV monitor. The ultrasonic speakers take turns transmitting a short burst (a few pulses) of 40 kHz sound and the system measures the time it takes for the sound to reach the microphones. A triangulation calculation is performed to determine the X, Y, Z location of each of the two speakers, which specifies the yaw and roll of the hand. The only dimension it cannot calculate is the pitch of the hand, since the hand can pitch without moving the location of the two ultrasonic speakers.

The Power Glove is based on the patented technology of the VPL Dataglove, but with many modifications that allow it to be used with slow hardware and sold at an affordable price. Whereas the Dataglove can detect yaw, pitch and roll, uses fiber optic sensors to detect finger flexure and has a resolution of 256 positions (8 bits) per finger for four fingers (the little finger is not measured to save money, for it usually follows the movement of the ring finger), the Power Glove can only detect roll, and uses sensors coated with conductive ink yielding a resolution of four positions (2 bits) per finger for four fingers.[9] This allows the Power Glove to store all the finger flexure information in a single byte.[10] However, it appears that the fingers actually feed an analog signal to the microprocessor on the Power Glove. The microprocessor converts the analog signal into two bits per finger.

Games[edit]

Two games were released with specific features for use with the Power Glove: Super Glove Ball, a "3D" puzzle maze game, and Bad Street Brawler, a beat 'em up. Both games were playable with the standard NES controller, but included moves that can only be used with the glove. These two games are branded as part of the "Power Glove Gaming Series". However, Super Glove Ball was never released in Japan. Since no Power Glove-specific games ever retailed in Japan, the Power Glove was sold only as an alternative controller. This decision damaged sales and eventually caused PAX to declare bankruptcy.

Two more games, Glove Pilot and Manipulator Glove Adventure, were announced but never released. Another unreleased game, Tech Town or Tektown, was a virtual puzzle solving game in which the player moved a robotic hand around a deserted space station type of setting, using the glove to open doors and to pick up and use tools. It could be seen in a sneak peek in the Official Power Glove Game Players Gametape (Vol. 1 No. 9), as "New Game Available Spring 1991".

Games without specific support could also be played with the glove by inputting codes on the glove's keypad that set a control scheme for the glove.

Reception[edit]

The Power Glove sold approximately 100,000 units in the U.S.[11] Its gross sales totaled $88 million.[2] The games that were especially made for the Power Glove sold poorly and the Power Glove itself was a critical and commercial failure.

In popular culture[edit]

In The Wizard, Lucas Barton wielded a Power Glove.
  • The Power Glove was prominently shown off in the Nintendo-produced film The Wizard, memorably wielded by antagonist Lucas Barton (Jackey Vinson), whose ironic smug boast, "I love the Power Glove. It's so bad", became an internet meme years later.[12][13] Mutant Reviewers from Hell noted that:
"… the Power Glove was an odd controller for the NES that required you to wear a huge glove that really did very little, but the movie treats it with such awe, such holy reverence that all of the witnesses to its mighty power are left speechless. That is, until Lucas gives us one of the film's most memorable lines: 'I love the Power Glove. It's so bad!'"[14]
  • The Power Glove is featured in the movie Beethoven during the scene where Ryce is playing Super Mario Bros. 3 and her brother Ted is next to her wearing a Power Glove on his right arm pointing at the screen.
  • In the sixth A Nightmare on Elm Street film, Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, Freddy Krueger is seen controlling and trying to kill Spencer with a video game similar to the NES. The controller is unplugged, and Freddy uses his version of the Power Glove as a replacement, saying "You forgot about the Power Glove!" Freddy also shouts "Now I'm playing with power!", a play on the Power Glove's tagline "Now you're playing with power!"
  • In the revived series of The Electric Company, Prankster Manny Spamboni is often seen sporting a Power Glove and using it to activate various gadgets of his.
  • Speed metal band Powerglove are named after the Nintendo accessory. Their music consists mainly of old video game songs translated into a fast-paced metal fashion. The band displays an original Power Glove at the conclusion of their set.
  • Australian electronic music duo Power Glove, is named after the accessory. They compose and produce synthesizer-heavy tracks inspired by 1980s culture.
  • The Regular Show episode "Video Game Wizard" revolved around a parody of the Power Glove, called the "Maximum Glove". Furthering the parody, the product's tagline is "It's so bad." The title and basic plot of the episode are a reference to The Wizard, which prominently featured the Power Glove. Its general unreliability is also parodied.
  • Australian electronic group Knife Party created a song sharing the same name as the Nintendo accessory. It also uses a vocal sample from one of the original Power Glove commercials. The song was released on its third EP called Haunted House.[15]
  • The electro/hip-hop group Hyper Crush's first EP, The Arcade, makes several references to the Power Glove.
  • Trailer for the Kickstarter funded 30 minute film Kung Fury features a Power Glove that is used to operate a time machine. [16]
  • A documentary about the Power Glove called The Power of Glove is in development.[17] A Kickstarter campaign was launched on August 6, 2014.[18]
  • On the videogame League of Legends the champion Veigar has a skin named Final Boss Veigar in which his right hand is modelled after the Power Glove.

References[edit]