When the first modern, fully-featured smartwatches launched almost eight years ago, they were mostly ridiculed for the need to recharge on a daily basis. Even Apple’s first Apple Watch got a lot of flak for that, and the smartwatch industry hasn’t exactly made leaps in battery life. Mirroring the smartphone market, smartwatch makers have resorted to indirect strategies to either reduce power consumption or speed up charging, but a Samsung patent wants to make that moot by having the smartwatch constantly charging even while on your wrist.
Smartwatches have even bigger battery problems than smartphones because of their smaller sizes. Smartwatches have gotten more powerful and are adding new sensors that practically cancel out whatever energy efficiency improvements that new processors and software may bring. While there are ways to reduce battery consumption through secondary processors or low-power displays, it would still be better if the devices didn’t need to be recharged at all, or at least every night.
A newly granted patent filed in 2019 reveals Samsung’s almost ingenious solution. In essence, the smartwatch is always charging, or at least has backup batteries that are always being charged and ready to kick in when the smartwatch’s main power goes low. These batteries are located in the straps and are constantly being charged through solar or even fluorescent light.
According to LetsGoDigital, the patent involves a polymer with quantum dots, the same quantum dots technology it uses for its QLED TVs and some new laptops. These capture light that gets passed to solar cells that then converts it into electrical energy. The structures are located on both sides of the watch case so that either one or both can receive light, no matter which way the smartwatch is worn.
While the technology definitely sounds attractive, there’s no assurance that Samsung will be using it on the Galaxy Watch 5 next year or any Galaxy Watch for that matter. One can only hope that it does, though, as it could be a more effective solution to the battery problem, at least until more advanced battery technologies are developed.