Nov. 2, 2012 at 12:36 PM ET
Scenes of people charging gadgets on New York City sidewalks in Sandy’s wake are a powerful reminder of how lame battery life remains for today’s smartphones. A new MIT-spinout company is working on a technology that could keep you connected much longer when the next superstorm hits.
Instead of looking at improving the life of the battery itself, Eta Devices turned to the power amplifier, a gadget that turns electricity into radio signals and keeps your smartphone connected to your carrier’s network, MIT Technology Review reports.
These chips are found in both smartphones and base stations, aka cell towers. In their current configuration, the chips consume a lot of power even when in standy mode so that they can establish communications links quickly without distorting signals.
Eta Devices is working on technology called “asymmetric multilevel outphasing” that determines how much power the chip needs as many as 20 million times per second. The net result of the wizardry is a reduction in energy use by half.
The company is first targeting the power amplifier in base stations with an eye on improving the efficiency of the 650,000 stations in the developing world that rely on diesel-powered generators. Commercialization is expected to begin next year.
A chip for smartphones is still in development, but it could double your smartphone’s battery life, Technology Review reports. Let’s hope such battery-extending chips find their way to our phones before the next superstorm hits.
– via Technology Review