New Device Doubles Smartphone Battery Life
November 3, 2012

New Device Doubles Smartphone Battery Life

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

A Massachusetts-based company has reportedly developed a power amplifier that could double the battery life of smartphones, tablet computers, handheld gaming systems, and other popular consumer electronic devices.

The company, a start-up by the name of Eta Devices, could provide a solution to "a power efficiency problem that is decades old," BGR's Zach Epstein said Thursday, citing MIT's Technology Review.

The device aims to overcome "inefficiencies in RF power amplifiers, which convert low-power radio signals into higher-power signals" and are "blamed for much of the power loss in cell phones and other devices," and the Cambridge-based company is hoping to commercially release the technology sometime in 2013, according to Epstein.

MIT professors Joel Dawson and David Perreault, co-founders of Eta Devices, told Gene Ryan Briones of Ubergizmo that they intend to begin by using the technology at LTE base stations next year. If that trial is successful, the start-up will then look to create a chip-scale version of the amplifier for smartphones and tablets.

According to MIT Technology Review Chief Correspondent David Talbot, supplying power to cellular base stations worldwide will cost approximately $36 billion in 2012, and will require nearly 1% of all global electricity produced this year.

Similarly, amplifiers in smartphones and related devices waste nearly two-thirds of their battery life, Talbot said -- hence the need for the Eta Devices' redesigned amplifier.

"The new advance is essentially a blazingly fast electronic gearbox. It chooses among different voltages that can be sent across the transistor, and selects the one that minimizes power consumption, and it does this as many as 20 million times per second. The company calls the technology asymmetric multilevel outphasing," Talbot explained.

The company, which the MIT Technology Review said is funded by Analog Devices co-founder Ray Stata, is expected to officially launch its product at the Mobile World Congress in Spain next February.

"It will first appear in emerging markets, where diesel-powered generators are currently used to power base stations," CNET reporter Shara Tibken wrote on Thursday. "

It's also still being researched for smartphones, the MIT report said, with hopes the technology will ultimately lead to a single power amplifier that can handle all of the different modes and frequencies, including CDMA, GSM, and 4G LTE."

"The technology´s indirect savings could include eliminating air-conditioning in big base stations and reducing the size of backup power systems," Talbot added.