WiFi Scaling The Secret To 50% Extra Smartphone Battery Life

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Smartphone battery life increases by 50% with Wi-Fi Scaling:

At last it appears that research into increasing the general battery life of our beloved new smartphones will offer us a method of increasing the time it takes between charges for these power-hungry devices.

Researchers at the University of Michigan led by engineering professor Mr Kang Shin and a doctoral student named Xinyu Zhang have found that the idle state of smartphones and Apple iPhones was using up around 80% of the phones power, in essence what they have developed as a result of this data is a method to reduce the power needed to keep the phone in functional “idle listening state”, the state that your phone is in when it is not active, but still listening to check your network for incoming data.

Listening state uses as much power as active:

The new name they have coined to explain their concept is E-Mili, this stands for “Energy-Minimizing Idle Listening”, and as explained prior, is designed to reduce the power needed to provide that listening functionality that smartphones rely on.

How does this save power:

Basically the method involves scaling back the power needed for the wi-fi clock to 1/16th of its normal power consumption. Doing this however poses problems with your phone knowing that incoming messages are available. This has been mitigated by a slight alteration in how your phone reads messages. Now your smartphone will only be looking for message headers as opposed to the full data to save processing power and energy needed.

These minor adjustments are reputed to save around 44% of energy consumption in some 92% of mobile devices tested in what they describe as; “real world wireless networks.”

New firmware and software needed:

Wi-Fi Scaling Improves Battery Life
Wi-Fi Scaling Improves Battery Life

The only way currently to benefit from this new technology is to equip your smartphone with new software and firmware to slow down the processor.

The University of Michigan is also quoted with regards the intellectual property rights of the technology saying that they are…

“….pursuing patent protection for the intellectual property, and is seeking commercialization partners to help bring the technology to market.”

This could be great news for smartphone users, as the one thing that has not progressed as speedily as the pace of microprocessors is the storage and power capacity of smartphone device batteries, it is a major gripe for my Samsung S2, I need to charge at least twice a day on average. Now this is worrying if you forget or indeed have unexpected outcomes. And something I seriously will look into in more depth when I buy a mobile phone again. Early adopters often look silly later on!

Hopefully this kind of technology will allow smartphones to keep getting faster and more powerful without the expense of losing out on battery life.

All however will be fully revealed from these guys at the ACM International Conference on Mobile Computing and Networking in Las Vegas, so stay tuned to see if this technology makes it into a product or devices in the coming months.

Anthony Munns