I’ve Seen the Future, And Battery Life Still Sucks!

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Technology has been improving by leaps and bounds in recent years. Processors have gotten faster, RAM has become more plentiful, graphics processors and screens today are outstanding. We even have megabit data connections in our pockets — which is amazing if you stop and think about it. What hasn’t changed much? Batteries. I’ve seen the future of technology… and battery life still sucks!

Honestly, it should come as no surprise, we’ve been complaining about battery life for as long as we’ve had consumer electronics. While improvements have been made, let’s face it, none of us are carrying around batteries with very much capacity. The Nexus 4 that I carry as my daily driver has a 2100 mAh battery. The battery in the HTC One is 2300 mAh and in the Galaxy S4 is it’s 2600 mAh. To put that in perspective, the Duracell rechargeable AA batteries that I use are 2650 mAh. (To make sure we’re comparing apples to apples, the battery in your smartphone is probably putting out 3.7 volts. To get this out of a AA battery you’d need to chain three of them together.)

Duracell AA battery

I’ve seen the future…

The technology of tomorrow is going to include more than just smartphones, tablets, and “things you can type on” (whatever those will be called). In the future we will have smart watches, various sensors, and even glasses that augment our reality and tell us more about the world around us.

I’m wearing a Pebble smart watch on my wrist right now. Everything that it does makes my life easier and reduces the need to pull my smartphone out of my pocket. Yes, it’s fed information by my smartphone, but rather than pulling out my phone to check the time, I look at my wrist. Instead of reaching for my Nexus to see what it’s trying to tell me about, I just look at my wrist. It makes my life simpler. Why didn’t someone invent the “watch” before?! All kidding aside, this is the technology that I’m talking about. Unfortunately, even with battery life of at least 3 days (I average 5 out of my Pebble), that’s still far too short for what it is: a watch.

Bluetooth 4.0

The next version of Bluetooth is going to open all kinds of doors for us. Not only does it use significantly less energy than its predecessors, the electronics required to make a BT4-compatible “gadget” are very low-cost.

We’re going to see all kinds of new products once BT4 really kicks off. Watches, dog collars, kid monitors, heart sensors, and maybe even some non-traditional implementations like rain gauges and weather stations can be enhanced and brought to market thanks to technologies like BT4.

Trust me, they’re coming — and they’re all going to need batteries.

Battery Life Woes

One of the most famous upcoming devices is Google Glass, the creepy-but-awesome augmented reality “glasses” from Google.

Google Glass

Amazing concept — terrible battery life

I’m not saying Google Glass (or similar products from other companies) will replace our smartphones or tablets. They’re meant to augment and supplement. They’re meant to be worn almost all the time (take them off in the shower and while swimming, of course). As such, I’d expect Glass to have at least the same battery life as my Pebble. Alas, those who have had the opportunity to review Glass for any length of time are reporting that Glass isn’t going to make it through a day without being recharged, and if you use it a lot, it may power-down after only two hours of use.

I can see what the future is going to bring — and it’s glorious! Just don’t stray too far from a power outlet, and buy a few portable batteries while you’re at it.

Image Credit: Amblin Entertainment

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About The Author
Joe Levi
Joe graduated from Weber State University with two degrees in Information Systems and Technologies. He has carried mobile devices with him for more than a decade, including Apple's Newton, Microsoft's Handheld and Palm Sized PCs, and is Pocketnow's "Android Guy".By day you'll find Joe coding web pages, tweaking for SEO, and leveraging social media to spread the word. By night you'll probably find him writing technology and "prepping" articles, as well as shooting video.Read more about Joe Levi here.