New Wi-Fi enhancements could double electronic battery life

battery-life-indicator

There’s nothing worse than having your cell phone die before you’re able to charge it. Finally, scientists seem to be doing something about it. Last week, we reported about a new substance that could triple the life of lithium-ion batteries. About that same time, another story broke that we (I) failed to report in a timely manner. The Register reports that a Duke University researcher named Justin Manweiler has figured out another way to double mobile gadget battery life (yes, double) by better managing Wi-Fi signal searching.

One of the big drains on battery life is searching for Wi-Fi and 3G signals. Currently, phones, tablets, and other gadgets have to wake up periodically, check in with their Wi-Fi access point, and then see if there’s any new data to download. The access points help a bit too by bundling data together into large packets. This Wi-Fi power saving technique is already an improvement over the dark ages when devices didn’t get to sleep at all and had to get data that wasn’t optimized. Add in multiple access points, however, and things get bad. Manweiler found that when there are multiple Wi-Fi access points in range of your phone or device, the device has to be on and transmitting as much as five times as long due to contention between access points. This wouldn’t be a problem, except that there is almost always at least one other access point within range of us at any one time. Wi-Fi is everywhere these days.

However, thanks to Manweiler’s innovation, battery life on Wi-Fi (which carriers like AT&T use for service in some urban areas), may get an efficiency boost. Known as SleepWell, it works by dynamically rescheduling traffic and coordinating data between access points.

“By carefully modifying the timestamps – as a part of the Wi-Fi clock synchronisation process – the SleepWell AP regulates the client’s sleep and wake-up schedules,” said Manweiler. “Results show a median gain of up to 2x when Wi-Fi links are strong. When links are weak and the network density is high, the gains can be even more.”

The best part about this technology is that you won’t have to buy a new device to take advantage of it. It needs to be implemented in the access points themselves. To learn more, check out Manweiler’s paper: Avoiding the Rush Hours: Wi-Fi Energy Management via Traffic Isolation.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: A.I. selfie drones, ‘invisible’ wireless chargers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Wearables

Google's Wear OS update 'H' promises battery life improvements

Google has rebranded its Android Wear operating system to Wear OS. Removing the Android name may help people better understand Google-powered smartwatches, which also play nice with iOS devices. 
Home Theater

What is MHL, exactly, and how does it work with your TV?

There are more ways to mirror your smartphone or tablet to your TV than you might think. Check out our rundown of MHL for everything you need to know about the wired protocol and its myriad uses.
Mobile

These 100 best iPhone apps will turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

The iPhone is the most popular smartphone in the world, and we want to bring out the best in yours. Behold our comprehensive list of the best iPhone apps, from time-saving productivity tools to fun apps you won’t be able to put down.
Computing

Don't use streaming apps? These are the best free players for your local music

Rather than using music streaming apps, you may want something for playing your local music. Good news! There are some good alternatives. These are the best media players you can download for free on Windows.
Computing

Style up your MacBook Air with one of these great cases or sleeves

Whether you’re looking for added protection or a stylish flourish, you’re in the right place for the best MacBook Air cases. We have form-hugging cases, luxurious covers and padded sleeves priced from $7 to $130. Happy shopping!
Emerging Tech

Microsoft’s friendly new A.I wants to figure out what you want — before you ask

Move over Siri and Alexa! Microsoft wants to build a new type of virtual assistant that wants to be your friend. Already making waves in Asia, could this be the future of A.I. BFFs?
Computing

How to easily record your laptop screen with apps you already have

Learning how to record your computer screen shouldn't be a challenge. Lucky for you, our comprehensive guide lays out how to do so using a host of methods, including both free and premium utilities, in both MacOS and Windows 10.
Gaming

Want to gift a Steam game so you can play with a friend? Here's how to do it

The holidays may have passed, but it's always a good time to give the gift of gaming (especially when there's a Steam sale)! Here's our quick guide on how to give a Steam game as a gift.
Computing

Multi-monitor issues? Here's how to resolve them

If you're running into multi-monitor problems, you're not alone. Two screens are very useful, but they can present some difficulties. Here are some common multi-monitor problems and how to fix them.
Computing

Capture screenshots with print screen and a few alternative methods

Capturing a screenshot of your desktop is easier than you might think, but it's the kind of thing you'll probably need to know. Here's how to perform the important function in just a few, easy steps.
Deals

Black Friday 2018: The best deals so far

Black Friday is the biggest shopping holiday of the year, and it will be here before you know it. If you can't wait until November 23 to start formulating a shopping plan, we've got you covered.
Deals

The best MacBook deals for November 2018

If you’re in the market for a new Apple laptop, let us make your work a little easier: We hunted down the best up-to-date MacBook deals available online right now from various retailers.
Deals

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…