SAN FRANCISCO -- MIT Technology Review Digital Summit -- Microsoft is figuring out how to make mobile phone batteries last longer. How much longer? Try a week...
Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s Research team is looking into several techniques for extending battery life, said senior researcher Ranveer Chandra here at the MIT summit. First, Microsoft is looking to enable developers to find out which components of their mobile apps use the most power, and tune the code to be more efficient. These profiling tools are built into Microsoft's Visual Studio 2013 application development software.
Phones can also extend battery life by offloading compute functions to routers and the cloud, Chandra said.
Further out, phones will use a technique Microsoft calls "Somniloquy" -- which means talking in your sleep -- to allow power-hungry cores to intelligently offload computations onto less power-intensive cores, while the power-hungry cores go to sleep.
And even further out, Microsoft wants to replace existing phone batteries with multiple batteries with different properties for different conditions, Chandra said.
Phone batteries are now individual reservoirs of power optimized for average environmental conditions and current requirements. But battery life depends on the type of computing being done, the chemical properties of the battery, and environmental conditions such as temperature. Future phones will have multiple small batteries with different chemical properties that function well under different conditions, and the operating system will intelligently shift between batteries to prolong battery life.
Chandra compared the technique of managing multiple batteries with different properties to SDN -- he called it "software-defined batteries."
Battery life has been a bottleneck for phone usage. While phones get exponentially smarter, more powerful, and cheaper, batteries have only twice as much capacity as they did 15 years ago, Chandra said.
Ideas from the battery project have already made it into Microsoft products. In addition to the Visual Basic tool, Windows 8's WiFi software uses the energy saving techniques.
I'd like to say more about this, but I need to go plug in my phone.