Friday, March 17, 2006

Batteries Suck

This is a half-generated thought after some frustration with a GPS enabled cell phone and its poor battery life. It also reminded me to bookmark of a recent article on battery innovation (or lack thereof).

Perhaps it goes without saying, but battery technology has lagged too far behind in comparison to computing technology. It's literally ancient. Take any electronic device made today, remove the battery, and feel the heft of the device. Now imagine a world where power can be supplied without that added bulk and weight.

GPS is one of those battery killers, though companies like Garmin are making their own hardware devices consume less and less power to determine your location. However if you tried to use a GPS on a standard GPS enabled cell phone you can expect maybe 2-3 hours on a charge. If we're going to do anything engaging with GPS and continue to make calls afterward, there will have to be some better power management features for these devices.

I expect that once GPS is actively used by more people on their cell phones that the battery consumption will be improved, but we still have to figure out a better way to power devices. We're still relying on chemical solutions which will only go so far.

Nuclear power anyone?

I'm not kidding. Nuclear power is actively being developed for use in pacemakers and other surgically implanted devices. Maybe even cell phones will use this technology some day.

Whatever the case something needs to be done about these ancient battery monstrosities. If we're going to make augmented technology useful and accessible this will be the single most important technology to improve.

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