Researchers at the University of Michigan have found a clever way to make our smartphones up to 44% more energy efficient without changing how we interact with them. They found that when your smartphone goes into “power saving mode” it isn’t actually saving much power – it’s really just shutting its screen off. That’s because a smartphone is coded to constantly search for a clear signal to make sure that you receive messages as quickly as possible. The University of Michigan team found that they were able to recode this “idle mode” to slow down to 1/16 the speed normally needed to receive messages without compromising data sync times. They call their new smartphone hardware E-MiLi — short for Energy-Minimizing Idle Listening — and it promises to make your smartphone’s battery last a whole lot longer.

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My phone isn’t sending or receiving anything right now,” said University of Michigan computer science and engineering professor Kang Shin about his iPhone. “But it’s listening to see if data is coming in so I can receive it right away. This idle listening often consumes as much power as actively sending and receiving messages all day.” Shin and his colleagues that worked on the study noted that this energy squandering happens because on a busy network it can sometimes be difficult to find a clear signal and your phone is trying not to disappoint you with delayed messages.

The team also found that by slowing your phone’s idle network searching and then coding E-MiLi to jump back to high speed once a message is detected they could cut your phone’s big gulp energy habits down to tiny sips. This is no hypothetical study, by the way, the team exclusively tested their ideas on real world wireless networks thereby coming out of their research with real world technology that could change how often we all have to plug in to an outlet. The team didn’t mention this in their research but we’re also wondering if this slower idle searching speed might also cut back on the radiation your cell phone could be spewing into your body potentially cutting back on gadget-related health issues.

Via Science Daily