TechSpot

Microsoft researchers dramatically increase battery life of wearables

By Dieter Holger
Jul 11, 2015
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  1. [parsehtml]<p><img src="http://www.techspot.com/images2/news/bigimage/2015/07/2015-07-11-image.jpg" /></p> <p>Wearable tech may start staying on longer. As part of Microsoft&#39;s WearDrive project, researchers have found a way to increase the battery life of wearable technology, such as fitness trackers, using a RAM-based system that doesn&#39;t rely on a new battery.</p> <p>The <a href="http://blogs.technet.com/b/inside_microsoft_research/archive/2015/07/09/microsoft-researchers-have-developed-a-way-to-make-wearables-last-longer.aspx">improved battery life</a> is made possible by pairing the wearable with a smartphone via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. The wearable&#39;s more energy intensive operations are subsequently processed on the smartphone, prolonging the its battery life.</p> <p>The WearDrive energy saving system was tested on an Android phone, with the researchers noting a &quot;negligible&quot; impact on the smartphone&#39;s battery life and an improvement of over three times in energy conservation for the wearable. The paired wearable also experienced more than eight times faster than normal application runtimes.</p> <p>The WearDrive system conveniently deactivates when it&#39;s not in reach of a paired smartphone. So you&#39;re more than welcome to go on a workout without taking your phone.</p> <blockquote> <p>Ranveer Chandra, a principal researcher at Microsoft Research, said many of the current wearable battery designs are based on the battery-saving tricks that were developed for smart phones. WearDrive takes a completely different approach by offloading operations to the smartphone.</p> </blockquote> <p>Anirudh Badam, a Microsoft researcher, also points out that wearables -- unlike smartphones -- don&#39;t have the luxury of being equipped with heavy batteries and that&#39;s an inherent issue with wearable computing where the lightest possible device is ideal.</p> <p>Microsoft&#39;s in-house wearable, the <a href="http://www.techspot.com/news/58634-microsoft-enters-wearable-market-199-fitness-tracking-smartband.html">Microsoft Band</a>, has already been praised for its advertised two-day battery life. However Band&#39;s developers have no immediate plans to incorporate WearDrive on this generation&#39;s device.</p><p><a rel='alternate' href='http://www.techspot.com/news/61317-microsoft-researchers-dramatically-increase-battery-life-wearables.html' target='_blank'>Permalink to story.</a></p><p class='permalink'><a rel='alternate' href='http://www.techspot.com/news/61317-microsoft-researchers-dramatically-increase-battery-life-wearables.html'>http://www.techspot.com/news/61317-microsoft-researchers-dramatically-increase-battery-life-wearables.html</a></p>[/parsehtml]
     
  2. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 1,169   +577

    This isn't extending battery life, this just uses another device you have. I guess Microsoft expects people to constantly charge their phone. At this point, wearables are becoming more of a hassle then a help.

    Why not just make wireless batteries instead. Hell lot better than this option.
     
    Skidmarksdeluxe and ZarkBit like this.
  3. m4a4

    m4a4 TS Guru Posts: 751   +270

    Microsoft hater much? Or did you not read the article?
    Last I checked, offloading wearable tasks to another device extends how long the wearable's battery life lasts (aka extending battery life). Which is the point...

    Otherwise, I agree smart wearables that try to do too much aren't worth it at this point...
     
    MilwaukeeMike likes this.
  4. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 1,169   +577

    See, that's the problem. It extends the battery life of the wearable but reduces the battery life of your phone. Now when I hear savings, that means to get more for less, not equal exchange.

    It's blatantly misleading and frankly, dumb. No one is going to want to give up phone battery life for a device that now has more caveats then it's worth.

    Please don't pull out the "I didn't read the article" line because it's obvious at this point that anyone who did read the article would have noted the same fact, that is this isn't really saving battery life at all.
     
  5. m4a4

    m4a4 TS Guru Posts: 751   +270

    "It extends the battery life of the wearable but reduces the battery life of your phone." That is the whole point of it. That the wearable's battery life is extended. And they don't try to hide it drains battery elsewhere, heck they even say that the drain on the android was "negligible" (most likely because the calculations were more efficient). So I'd even bet that it did take less energy, meaning better battery life in the end for both.

    If you read the article fully, you wouldn't be complaining about the battery life of the smartphone.
     
  6. yRaz

    yRaz TS Evangelist Posts: 1,897   +940

    Great! I was getting disappointed in the performance of my strap-on batteries
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2015
  7. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,550   +2,894

    This is exactly the type of processing I believe all wireless devices can benefit from, when connected by wireless to a nearby PC/server (whether it be in a home, business, or car). Why confine the processing to only phones? Why confine the benefits to only smart-watches? Battery usage can be minimized all across the board!
     
  8. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 6,476   +2,034

    The more things change, the more they stay the same. Until battery tech changes, manufacturers will keep running around in square circles trying to convince us they've found a solution and to buy their products.
     
  9. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 6,476   +2,034

    Ya know Cliff, while reducing battery consumption is all well and good but until battery tech evolves we are going nowhere. Take wireless charging for example, it's nothing more than just an expensive, gimmicky selling point. What difference does it make whether you place your device on a wireless charger or plug a charging cable into it? Now if they could find a way of vastly extending wireless charging range it'll be a small step in the right direction but there is no getting around the fact we need new battery technology.
     
  10. MilwaukeeMike

    MilwaukeeMike TS Evangelist Posts: 2,750   +1,105

    If you can add 3 days to the battery life of your fitness tracker, and it only takes 15 mins away from your phone, would you do it? Don't forget, you're going to charge your phone every night anyway, so losing a little juice doesn't actually even get noticed.

    Plus, the phones processor and battery are so much bigger than a watch's that doing the same processing on a phone would have a (as they put it) negligible effect.
    Imagine you have a small car and you put a few hundred pounds of stuff in the trunk. Your gas mileage would take a hit, obviously. But put that same load in the back of a semi-truck's trailer along with the tons of other stuff, and it wouldn't even be noticed. Same idea.
     
    spectrenad likes this.
  11. Until you've actually used wireless charging, it's hard to see the advantage. There's no stress on the power jack, which tends to break on phones. You don't have to fumble with the USB connector to figure out which way it's supposed to go in. You can buy a prop stand, allowing your phone to double as an alarm clock. It's just all around more convenient.

    It's the only feature I miss on my Lumia 640XL, an otherwise nearly perfect budget phone...
     
  12. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 8,550   +2,894

    There is also nothing wrong with thinking there may never be an advancement in battery tech, and learn to live with what we have. If our wireless devices can benefit from non-wireless devices, why not take advantage of the concept?
     
  13. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 1,169   +577

    My main point was never to debate the process behind the "increased battery life" (microsoft didn't provide any information on that so everything would be speculative) but the fact that it's being hailed as actually increasing battery life. You could argue that this is saving battery life but it's really not and microsoft hasn't backed anything up with real world results.

    Saying additional battery drain on your phone would be small is merely speculative.
     
  14. Evernessince just needs to give up. The researchers are the ones who said the extra power drain on the phone is negligible. I guess they are being speculative? I'm beginning to speculate that you didn't read the article. Stop trying to damage control your original comment.
     
  15. Tanstar

    Tanstar TS Guru Posts: 407   +88

    Sadly, Tesla died with that secret stuck in his head.
     

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