Smartphone Battery Life can be Doubled with Better Power Use, According to MIT Startup

Startup company ETA Devices, founded by MIT professors Joel Dawson and David Perreault, is working on a system to cut base station power consumption in half and eventually do the same with smartphones.

Device data speeds and data consumption are constantly growing, more now than ever, and the strain this puts on cellphone batteries and base stations has both frustrated users and increased overall power consumption. MIT Technology Review reports that ETA Devices’ new technology could turn that around.

The system works by optimizing the power amplifier, which converts electricity to radio signals in both cellphones and base stations. The amplifier works in both a high-power mode for sending data and a lower-power standby mode, but because making sudden jumps between power levels can distort the signal, the standby mode is kept at a level that consumes far more power than it needs.

“It means you are pulling a lot of energy just to keep the thing on,” Dawson says. “With high data rate communication, you wind up needing far more standby power than signal power.”

ETA Devices installs a system that can choose between different voltages as many as 20 million times a second, selecting the most appropriate one, to make this more efficient.

ETA Devices are developing a version that could fit in smartphones, potentially doubling battery life when using a data connection. There is no product that has been produced as of yet, as they are still in the research stage. But ETA Devices hopes to announce a product for base stations at the 2013 Mobile World Congress in February. The ultimate goal is a version that could work with multiple standards, including CDMA, GSM, and LTE.

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