Mobile battery life doubled with “naps”

Letting mobile devices “nap” while waiting for access to public Wi-Fi could help extend battery life, according to researchers.

Mobile battery life doubled with

When smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices access Wi-Fi, they often have to wait for other gadgets to finish downloading before they start, sapping battery life.

Letting them rest while queuing could as much as double battery life, claims researcher Justin Manweiler, of Duke University in North Carolina.

While queueing for data, his software SleepWell will switch off a device’s Wi-Fi connection, reducing power consumption, and periodically reactivate to receive prepared data packets.

Long queues are especially problematic in cities, he said, comparing the problem to rush hour for commuters.

“Big cities face heavy rush hours as workers come and leave their jobs at similar times,” he said. “If work schedules were more flexible, different companies could stagger their office hours to reduce the rush. With less of a rush, there would be more free time for all, and yet, the total number of working hours would remain the same.”

SleepWell allows Wi-Fi access points to “stagger their activity cycles to minimally overlap with others, ultimately resulting in promising energy gains with negligible loss of performance”, he said.

Manweiler currently has the program running on 17 devices in his office, so far cutting energy use by 38% and 51% across applications such as YouTube and file downloads.

The student is currently looking for interest from router vendors, saying the system would only require a firmware update to be rolled out. The research has been supported by Microsoft Research, Cisco, Nokia and Verizon.

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