Entertainment

Gaming: World’s smallest console is the same size as a POSTAGE STAMP – but is fully functional


The world’s smallest handheld games console has been developed by US engineers and is about the size of a postage stamp, but plays just like a full-size device.

The ‘Thumby’ console from Ohio-based TinyCircuits comes with five retro games pre-installed, including tiny takes on classics like Tetris, Space Invaders and Snake.

Users can even create their own games using the MicroPython programming language and play multiplayer games with others, by means of a linking cable.

The console is being sold on Kickstarter from £14 ($19) for a basic grey model, with other colours and additional accessories like linking cables also available at higher prices.

Each Thumby sports a working battery, buzzer, gameplay buttons, power switch, screen and a micro-USB port to charge the console and update its software.

The screen is an OLED display and a loop on the bottom-right corner of each tiny, Game Boy-like console allows it to be attached to a keychain just like a keyring.

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The world’s smallest handheld games console (pictured) — which is about the size of a postage stamp, but plays just like a full-size device — has been developed by US engineers

The 'Thumby' console from Ohio-based TinyCircuits comes with five retro games pre-installed, including tiny takes on classics like Tetris , Space Invaders and Snake. Pictured: the Thumby console, at just 0.7 inches (18 millimetres) across, is about the size of a bee

The ‘Thumby’ console from Ohio-based TinyCircuits comes with five retro games pre-installed, including tiny takes on classics like Tetris , Space Invaders and Snake. Pictured: the Thumby console, at just 0.7 inches (18 millimetres) across, is about the size of a bee

Users can even create their own games using the MicroPython programming language and play multiplayer games with others, by means of a linking cable (pictured)

Users can even create their own games using the MicroPython programming language and play multiplayer games with others, by means of a linking cable (pictured)

The console is being sold from £14 ($19) for a basic grey model (pictured), with other colours and additional accessories like linking cables also available at higher prices

The console is being sold from £14 ($19) for a basic grey model (pictured), with other colours and additional accessories like linking cables also available at higher prices

The diminutive handheld recently won 'Best in Show: Most Innovative Product' at the GDex Conference in Columbus, Ohio, where the design was praised in particular for how it can help introduce beginners to coding in a fun way

The diminutive handheld recently won ‘Best in Show: Most Innovative Product’ at the GDex Conference in Columbus, Ohio, where the design was praised in particular for how it can help introduce beginners to coding in a fun way

THUMBY STATS 

Manufacturer: TinyCircuits

Size: 1.1×0.7×0.4 inches (30x18x9 mm)

Weight: 0.01 lbs (4.7 grams)

Price:

  • Grey: £14 ($19)
  • Light grey/blue/magenta: £18 ($24)
  • Gold: £26 ($35)

Controls:

  • 4-way D-pad
  • Two action buttons
  • Power switch 

Screen: Bright 72×40 OLED display  

Port: micro USB 

Processor: Raspberry Pi RP2040

Memory: 2MB total storage

Battery: 40mAh Rechargeable LiPo

Battery life: 2 hours of gameplay

‘My goal with Thumby was to make the smallest game console,’ said Thumby’s principal engineer, Ben Rose. 

‘When people see tiny, they think cheap. We designed a high-quality product with a powerful processor that defies its size.

‘Thumby started out as my personal project, but as we saw people’s reactions to the prototype, we knew we wanted to make it into a new TinyCircuits product.’

This, he added, will allow ‘more people can put it on their keychain, enjoy playing it, or even create their own games.’

The diminutive handheld recently won ‘Best in Show: Most Innovative Product’ at the GDex Conference in Columbus, Ohio, where the design was praised in particular for how it can help introduce beginners to coding in a fun way.

‘The Thumby is really tiny, and is just the size of a person’s thumb — hence the name,’ said TinyCircuits president Ken Burns.

‘Compared to other game consoles, the entire Thumby is smaller than the typical D-Pad of the controller.

‘I think this is the world’s smallest game console, I haven’t been able to find anything even remotely close to this size.

‘Thumby came from our nostalgia for ’90s retro games. 

‘We have a collection of game cartridges and an arcade in our office.

‘We thought it would be cool to have a well-crafted, meticulously made small keychain that is actually playable and programmable.’

Each Thumby console (pictured) sports a working battery, buzzer, gameplay buttons, power switch, screen and a micro-USB port to charge the console and update its software

Each Thumby console (pictured) sports a working battery, buzzer, gameplay buttons, power switch, screen and a micro-USB port to charge the console and update its software

'My goal with Thumby was to make the smallest game console,' said Thumby's principal engineer, Ben Rose. Pictured: a child plays with the Thumby device

‘My goal with Thumby was to make the smallest game console,’ said Thumby’s principal engineer, Ben Rose. Pictured: a child plays with the Thumby device

The screen is an OLED display and a loop on the bottom-right corner of each tiny, Game Boy -like console allows it to be attached to a keychain just like a keyring

The screen is an OLED display and a loop on the bottom-right corner of each tiny, Game Boy -like console allows it to be attached to a keychain just like a keyring

'The Thumby is really tiny, and is just the size of a person's thumb — hence the name,' said TinyCircuits president Ken Burns

‘The Thumby is really tiny, and is just the size of a person’s thumb — hence the name,’ said TinyCircuits president Ken Burns

As the name suggests, TinyCircuits is no stranger to producing small version of existing electronic products. 

Its first product in 2012 was TinyDuino, a miniature open-source electronics platform based on Arduino.

It has since followed up with tiny DIY collectable kits including a teeny television, Arcade console and violin, as well as minuscule circuit boards and e-textile applications.

More information on Thumby can be found on the TinyCircuits website, as well as well as the console’s Kickstarter page

'Compared to other game consoles, the entire Thumby is smaller than the typical D-Pad of the controller,' Mr Burns added

‘Compared to other game consoles, the entire Thumby is smaller than the typical D-Pad of the controller,’ Mr Burns added

'Thumby came from our nostalgia for '90s retro games,' said Mr Burns. 'We have a collection of game cartridges and an arcade in our office. We thought it would be cool to have a well-crafted, meticulously made small keychain that is actually playable and programmable.'

‘Thumby came from our nostalgia for ’90s retro games,’ said Mr Burns. ‘We have a collection of game cartridges and an arcade in our office. We thought it would be cool to have a well-crafted, meticulously made small keychain that is actually playable and programmable.’

TinyCircuits is — as its name suggests — no stranger to producing small version of existing electronic products. Their first product in 2012 was TinyDuino, a miniature open-source electronics platform based on Arduino. They have since followed up with tiny DIY collectable kits — including a teeny television, Arcade console and violin — as well as tiny circuit boards

TinyCircuits is — as its name suggests — no stranger to producing small version of existing electronic products. Their first product in 2012 was TinyDuino, a miniature open-source electronics platform based on Arduino. They have since followed up with tiny DIY collectable kits — including a teeny television, Arcade console and violin — as well as tiny circuit boards

IS VIDEO GAME ADDICTION REAL?

Research published in October 2017 found that video game addiction probably isn’t real.

Very few gamers meet the criteria for addiction, known as ‘internet gaming disorder’ (IGD), and instead use games to fill gaps in other areas of their life.

IGD is loosely defined as someone who suffers from five or more of nine criteria, including: Jeopardising jobs or education because of playing video games; lying about time spent gaming; and using gaming to relieve anxiety. 

The research, from experts at Cardiff University, followed thousands of online gamers over a period of six months. 

The team gave over 2,000 adult US gamers questionnaires about their physical activity, health and lifestyle.

None of the participants met the criteria for IGD at both the start and end of the six-month study and so weren’t diagnosed with addiction.

‘The study’s results suggest that it’s not clear how many resources should go to gaming addiction, compared to other addictions like drugs,’ lead author Dr Netta Weinstein told New Scientist.

The research also found that those who showed some symptoms of gaming addiction were more likely to be unhappy in other areas of their life, such as their relationship or career.



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