Microsoft Research has plans that could triple the battery life of our wearables.
The idea is pretty simple, actually it's very simple, kind of embarrassingly simple. WearDrive uses the increased power and battery of your smartphone to do some of the heavy lifting for the smartwatch or tracker.
WearDrive offloads energy intensive tasks via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi onto your smartphone, while the wearable takes care of lightweight tasks better suited to its size. Not only will this improve battery life, it will also speed up the performance of these tasks.
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In terms of tripling battery life, that could mean the difference between a smartwatch with a bright, colourful LCD screen that lasts two days at a push to one that can go five to six days on one charge.
The Microsoft Research paper states: "WearDrive improves the performance of wearable applications by up to 8.85x and improves battery life up to 3.69x with negligible impact to the phone's battery life."
The system will be able to switch on and off, depending on whether the wearable is paired to a smartphone. We are weary of all wearable tech becoming too reliant on smartphones but with WearDrive, the device wouldn't be useless without a smartphone, it would just run out of juice quicker.
The tech isn't being used on the Microsoft Band and though there are no current plans to add it to a second gen tracker, for instance, Microsoft hasn't ruled this out.
Working on research like this shows that Microsoft hasn't given up on wearables and hopefully has some exciting wrist-based hardware that's as promising as its HoloLens AR helmet.