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A trio of Netflix employees heave created a function that's as exciting as it is useless: Netflix streaming on the Nintendo Entertainment Center.
The stunt is part of Netflix's biannual Hack Day. For 24 hours, the company allows its employees to "get away from everyday work." Essentially, they spend an entire day modifying Netflix in the weirdest ways possible.
This year, Guy Cirino, Alex Wolfe, and Carenina Motion created a piece of software that allows Netflix to stream on the original Nintendo Entertainment System. According to the video, darNES is running on an unmodified console, but no information is given about how the developers actually pulled it off.
It's probably safe to assume that wizardry was involved (like in those Harry Potter movies, which aren't available on Netflix).
Unsurprisingly, Netflix doesn't run very well on an NES. The team created a passable user interface, but when a video is streamed, it becomes clear that the NES isn't really up for the challenge. As GameSpot pointed out, streaming is a resource-heavy process, and the NES isn't exactly a beefy machine by today's standards. So, there's only enough horsepower to output four colors, which is far less than the 256 colors that the NES supports.
Check out the ugliness in this video:
Over the years, Netflix's Hack Day has found some very clever solutions to an obscure set of problems. Last year, for instance, a handful of engineers created a sleep-tracking function that allows Netflix to detect when users fall asleep while watching television.
Another crew created something called "Oculix," which is a 3D, virtual reality interface for Netflix. So, when those virtual reality headsets finally hit the market, Netflix will be ready.
Aside from the darNES app, my favorite hack from this year's crop is probably "Net the Netflix Cheats." The add-on disables some videos from individual queues by forcing each partner to enter a pin number before certain items can be played. So, if your partner is the kind of person who sneaks in a few episodes of Orange Is The New Black even after agreeing to watch it together, you're protected.
My wife is this kind of person.
For the most part, none of the Hack Day creations ever actually make it onto the market. They allow employees to have a little fun at work, which is an admirable pursuit on Netflix's part. The next event will happen again this summer. Maybe Netflix will finally make its way to the NeoGeo? Fingers crossed.