The Game Boy Camera might be over two decades old at this point, but it has plenty of usefulness. It could be a webcam in 2023, for example.
Federico Viticci tested iPadOS 17, which will officially launch this month, and its new USB Video Class support with none other than an original Game Boy Camera. Viticci used the Game Boy accessory for FaceTime calls with his iPad Pro, and it turns out the 20th century toy camera works just fine. He goes so far as to say that the asynchronous tech amalgamation is “wild, ridiculous, and I love it.”
The Game Boy Camera and iPad Pro mashup is also curious because the former typically needs, well, a Game Boy to work. Players would slot the accessory in like they would any game cartridge, and behold, a rudimentary selfie device.
To pull the webcam idea off, Viticci used an Analogue Pocket and dock. The Analogue Pocket is a portable handheld that looks like a smaller, more modern take on Nintendo’s first handheld device. It uses the actual cartridges from the Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance. There are also adapters to use the handheld with other cartridges for other consoles like the Game Gear, Neo Geo Pocket Color, and the Atari Lynx.
From there, Viticci used a capture card to transmit video from the gaming device to serve as a webcam. This is where the plan comes together. Putting the Game Boy Camera into the Analogue Pocket connected to a capture card let Viticci use that handheld’s video as a webcam on FaceTime. Finally, there it is. A super low-res webcam that combines generations of technology for a nostalgia-fueled FaceTime call.
The rendering is a monochromatic and heavily pixelated green that somehow even works with the app’s hand gesture animations. It is a new FaceTime feature, Viticci explains, that makes things like balloons pop up when someone on the call makes a victory sign, for example. There were mixed results in the recognition, but the fact that any of the gestures registered was a win. However, other FaceTime features like Center Stage and Portrait, which are meant to highlight the person in frame or talking, didn’t seem to do much with the Game Boy Web Camera.
Viticci says the setup needs an app to actually read UVC devices is needed (he went with Capture Pro: UVC Viewer). But the process seems fairly straightforward overall and worth the effort for Game Boy Camera fans.
“I started testing iPadOS 17 thinking this would be a boring addition I’d never use,” Viticci explains, “as it turns out, it’s where I had the most fun tinkering with different pieces of hardware this summer.”
Image credits: Federico Viticci