Battery technology has hit a wall according to Qualcomm boss

By on July 10, 2013, 4:00 PM
qualcomm, battery, batteries, battery technology

Battery technology used to power the latest gadgets has come a long way over the past several years but it has pretty much hit a brick wall according to John Stefanac, president of Southeast Asia & Pacific for Qualcomm.

During a chat at HTC's Frequencies Asia event in Bangkok on Wednesday, the executive believes a major shift in battery technology is required if we are to continue to realize the dream of uber-thin devices. He said everyone has recognized that the rate at which our devices have developed has far outpaced the capabilities and the evolution of power in batteries.

True enough, Stefanac pointed out that we have slick devices but are still having to carry around battery packs. Compromises could be made to improve battery life but that would result in thicker devices – something that isn’t likely to happen given the current roadmap of handset makers.

The Qualcomm boss didn’t really offer up any real suggestions as to how to improve battery technology although he did highlight the fact that poor battery life isn’t always the fault of the battery inside a device. Stefanac said the way networks have been optimized and requiring phones to ping between different base stations can severely impact battery life.

In working with select operators, they were able to save between 25 and 30 percent battery power on devices simply by optimizing the networks and modifying a few parameters. All of the devices in the puzzle have to work together, Stefanac said, to get the most out of current batteries.




User Comments: 20

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Guest said:

This guy really needs to visit techspot. I think there have been quite a few discoveries in battery technology that have been published here and other websites that could improve battery life by a lot.

treeski treeski said:

Finding better ways to store energy is definitely one of the most critical areas of technology.

2 people like this | texrat texrat said:

Guest, I'm sure that Stefanac is well aware. But there's a big difference between discoveries and production.

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

This guy really needs to visit techspot. I think there have been quite a few discoveries in battery technology that have been published here and other websites that could improve battery life by a lot.

Discovery is just the first stage. Getting it through the design hurdles, safety and longevity testing, and finally working reliably in real-world situations is a whole other ball game. Along with the requirement that it all be done incredibly cost-effectively, so that it will even be considered - if it's got twice the power density of current battery tech, but costs 4 times as much to produce, it will only show up in very high end devices (if at all). It's taken decades to get Lithium Ion battery technology out of the labs and into the current packages and power densities that we are used to now...

1 person liked this | cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

It's taken decades to get Lithium Ion battery technology out of the labs and into the current packages and power densities that we are used to now...
At least Lithium Ion came out of the lab. As far as hurdles go, you didn't mention one of the biggest hurdle of all. Investors already making their living with current tech is the final hurdle.

cmbjive said:

I'm pretty sure this guy works with batteries all day and knows the ins and outs of discovering a more efficient battery. The problem has been mentioned by a couple of others: production, feasibility, and profitability are just as important, if not more, than just discovering a new form of battery.

I think Qualcomm and other phonemakers should be concentrating on battery longevity at this point and not trying to make the phones thinner. It's not worth it having to sacrifice performance for a thin phone.

2 people like this | avoidz avoidz said:

I guess I'm in the minority of preferring my devices to have some weight and thickness to them so they fit comfortably and practically in my human hands. And are not so fragile.

MilwaukeeMike said:

At least Lithium Ion came out of the lab. As far as hurdles go, you didn't mention one of the biggest hurdle of all. Investors already making their living with current tech is the final hurdle.

It's a common known fact in business that the best way to get pushed into obscurity is to stop improving/innovating. 'Making their living with current tech' is how big companies get passed up by new ones in the field. It's why there isn't an Intel processor in anyone's phone right now. This isn't a secret, it's just hard to think outside the box when all your engineers have years of experience in one area.

And anyway... companies don't stick with a successful technology because of investors, they stick with it until it stops selling. It's the new emerging technology companies that need investors.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

'Making their living with current tech' is how big companies get passed up by new ones in the field.
Thats assuming the big company is going to just sit back and allow the new/little company to continue as a threat.

It's the new emerging technology companies that need investors leeches.
Fixed that for you!

This is what investors are good for. - Assault on Wall Street

2 people like this | Guest said:

More focus on Tesla's "current through the air" (ie Wardenclyffe plant) process and the world would change....

1 person liked this | Guest said:

There have been more than a few recent scientific breakthroughs and improvements with battery technology. The corporations are not ready to take them on. New technology is expensive to research and refine into practical applications. Development takes time. If a newer technology comes along that makes the last advancement obsolete, the corporation just lost a good chunk of capital.

Money is the problem. Money is the greatest and most subtle form of social and technological control. Isn't it a sad time for humanity when advanced technology is suppressed (or at the very least, not pursued or made available publicly) because of greed? Because it cannot be patented or generate revenue? Or because it competes too closely with an older product that already has a large market share?

Business does not spark innovation, unless that innovation increases profits or cuts costs.

Mbloof said:

What Qualcom ought to be focusing on is not whining about battery technology but making the device that is draining the battery use less power. The backlight, CPU and transmitters need to do more with less.

JC713 JC713 said:

This is true. Battery tech itself is at a standstill. But that doesnt mean we cant make more energy efficient components to combat that.

Guest said:

I would like to disagree. I am a student at the University of Illinois and have personally seen this battery in action. It's only a matter of time before it goes into production.

[link]

1 person liked this | Guest said:

It's amazing isn't it how all other forms of technology have moved on but battery technology always seem to come across stumbling blocks and hurdles!!

Call me cynical but somehow I think the oil and utility companies have a lot to do with this! Let's face it, if batteries became super efficient, we would all have them in our cars, homes etc.

As it's been mentioned before, Tesla gave us the answer but the powers that be hid them under the carpet along with all the other free or cheap to run innovations. No profit = no interest!!

jonelsorel said:

To think that ANY technology is has hit a wall or has topped up today, in my opinion, is one of the stupidest things possible to be thought... That big companies aren't in a hurry to implement or send into mass production even current gen battery tech - even lithium polymer - that's a different story. For god's sake, a university lab - Harvard, not a company - has made the latest breaktrhough I know in battery tech.. by 3D printing the damn thing themselves!

[link]

Would it help us to have a car capable of doing 100mpg at 100mph? Probably. Would any oil company agree? Probably not.

1 person liked this | Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

What's wrong with carrying a lead-acid battery pack strapped to your back to power all your devices? It's good exercise.:p

3 people like this | MilwaukeeMike said:

There have been more than a few recent scientific breakthroughs and improvements with battery technology. The corporations are not ready to take them on. New technology is expensive to research and refine into practical applications. Development takes time. If a newer technology comes along that makes the last advancement obsolete, the corporation just lost a good chunk of capital.

Money is the problem. Money is the greatest and most subtle form of social and technological control. Isn't it a sad time for humanity when advanced technology is suppressed (or at the very least, not pursued or made available publicly) because of greed? Because it cannot be patented or generate revenue? Or because it competes too closely with an older product that already has a large market share?

Business does not spark innovation, unless that innovation increases profits or cuts costs.

That sounds convincing when you read it, but so much of it isn't true.

Money is subtle? No it's not. Money is front and center of any reason any business does anything.

"A corporation loses capital if a new technology comes along?" First off, go look up what 'Capital' means, because they wouldn't lose their buildings and assets, they'd lose future sales. And that doesn't matter to the company that produces the new technology. Do you think Google cares that they stole market share from MS via Chrome beating out IE? Do you think Samsung held back on innovation because they didn't want to steal sales from Apple? Why do you think innovation has to occur with a single company? Who ever figures out how to make a better battery will be RICH! I can guarantee you there are plenty of companies racing to be the first.

To think that ANY technology is has hit a wall or has topped up today, in my opinion, is one of the stupidest things possible to be thought...

Would it help us to have a car capable of doing 100mpg at 100mph? Probably. Would any oil company agree? Probably not.

Yes, we can hit a wall... it's because of physics. Look at processors in a PC. they've kinda maxed out at around 3.5Ghz and now the ways to speed them up have to do with multiple cores, hyperthreading, caching, 22nm instead of 28nm etc... why not just make a 5Ghz processor? Because silicon melts when you shoot electricity through it that fast.

Why don't we have 100mpg cars? Because a gallon of gasoline can only produce so much energy when you burn it. They can't make 87 octane gas explode more. Cars are heavy, and they have to be in order to be safe and it just isn't possible to move 2500 pounds of metal 100 miles by burning a gallon of gas.

It's not a conspiracy... In order to get past these barrier we need completely new technologies. Circuit boards made from synthetic diamond that won't melt, engines that use battery technology not yet invented.

Do you really think Chevy lost a ton of money on their Volt because they didn't want to make it better and lose out on sales of the Cruise? Do you think the Prius only gets 40 mpg because Toyota doesn't want to sell too many of them? If better battery tech were possible neither of those cars would even have gasoline engines and they'd cost far less to make. They could be sold at the same price they are today and the car makers would be turning huge profits.

Do you think Qualcomm doesn't want to improve battery tech because then they'll have to deal with the problem of making millions of them a year and dominating the market?

lipe123 said:

I honestly don't get most of the arguments here, new tech costs money? Yea so what?!

Companies like Samsung and I'm sure Qualcomm themselves spend millions of $ on R&D every year.

We all used to have NiCd only and then came things like Li-Polymer, NmHd, etc etc, all those batteries cost a lot to develop and produce but they all happened because they offered real advantages and made profits.

There is literally nothing stopping new emerging prototypes from going to production, they WILL sell.

Guest said:

I don't need a new battery technology for now. But I do need a wireless charger :)

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