SleepWell smart WiFi tech could double smartphone battery life

A new system for intelligently power-cycling WiFi connections could see smartphone battery life doubled, by cooperating with nearby wireless devices rather than competing with them. SleepWell is the handiwork of Duke University graduate student Justin Manweiler: whereas in congested WiFi environments devices like smartphones and tablets have to stay awake in order to snatch their moment of connection, SleepWell allows devices to enter wireless sleep mode until their turn to get online.

"SleepWell enabled WiFi access points can stagger their activity cycles to minimally overlap with others" Manweiler explains, "ultimately resulting in promising energy gains with negligible loss of performance." The concept behind the technology is akin to flexible working hours in a city, he suggests, where rather than causing gridlock as everyone tries to enter and leave the business district at the same time, phased shifts result in the same number of working hours but less congestion.

In the mobile environment, that congestion means battery guzzling, and results in shorter runtime for individual devices. That's bad enough when you take into account push-email, frequent social network updates and things like Google+, but as cloud services – like Apple's iCloud – proliferate there'll be even more demand for wireless bandwidth.

Happily, there's a fair chance that SleepWell could transition from the lab to commercial devices. Manweiler works as part of Roy Choudhury's research team, known as the Systems Networking Research Group, and that has ties with not only the US National Science Foundation, but big names in the mobile and networking industry such as Microsoft Research, Cisco, Nokia and Verizon. "The testing we conducted across a number of device types and situations gives us confidence that SleepWell is a viable approach for the near future" Manweiler says; we just hope it means sneaky mid-day smartphone top-ups become a thing of the past.

[via Cellular-News]