Less Than Electrifying News

The proliferation of always-increasing battery power-consuming devices has left battery technology in the dust. As more features are added to our convergent devices, the energy gap widens. I, like so many of my fellow earth-friendly geek friends, have been watching hopefully for news of some significant advances in battery technology.

A news headline in Wireless Week today promised the first real advancement. The article started out with the announcement that “Powercast, a new Pennsylvania-based startup, has a better battery solution that it promises is not only reliable, FCC-approved and safe, but will be ready to power millions of small devices by the end of 2008, using radio waves.”

Imagine the break-through this technology promises. But no, the article goes on to state “According to the company, its platform can harvest a few milliwatts of energy within a meter of the transmitter; enough energy to charge a single depleted cell phone battery about halfway overnight.”

Ok, the meter limitation means it will be the equivalent of a Bluetooth-type charging device. Just put the cell phone within distance of the power transmitter and no need to plug in. But all night to achieve only a halfway charge? Clearly the technology is not the breakthrough needed. But at least it’s a start . . .

It does remind one, though, to keep in mind battery life when purchasing ones smart phone. All of the add-ons, like the MP3 players, digital cameras, etc all come at a cost — additional power consumption. Because our convergent devices aren’t a luxury anymore, they’re essential. Nothing is worse than being in a situation where you have to make a critical call, or find that essential telephone number, only to discover your battery is too low to perform the desired task. For that reason I gave out emergency cell phone power supplies to my close friends as holiday gifts this past season.

Speaking of economical, this is a small disaster avoidance step you can take now to make sure you’re prepared later. Buy one for the glove box, and your suitcase.

Meanwhile, I’ll keep watching the news for any glimpse of battery life improvement technology breakthroughs.

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