Wi-fi technology is wonderful – it lets us browse the web on our phones, laptops, and iPads practically wherever and whenever we want. However it also drains our batteries, forcing us to charge our devices ever night. A student from Duke University believes he has found a way to change this by tweaking wi-fi technology to double our devices’ battery lives. Justin Manweiler‘s software, called SleepWell, allows mobile devices to ‘sleep’ while they are waiting to download information. This allows your devices, and other competing devices in the area, to save energy.

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Manweiler is a graduate student in computer science under the direction of Romit Roy Choudhury, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering. He described his system to Science Daily with an analogy:

“Big cities face heavy rush hours as workers come and leave their jobs at similar times. If work schedules were more flexible, different companies could stagger their office hours to reduce the rush. With less of a rush, there would be more free time for all, and yet, the total number of working hours would remain the same.”

“The same is true of mobile devices trying to access the Internet at the same time,” Manweiler said. “The SleepWell-enabled WiFi access points can stagger their activity cycles to minimally overlap with others, ultimately resulting in promising energy gains with negligible loss of performance.”

As people use the internet more and more on mobile devices and cloud computing becomes more common, frequent online access could severely impact device battery life. SleepWell offers a major upgrade to WiFi technology that can significantly increase the energy efficiency of mobile devices.

The software has been tested on multiple systems and Manweiler and his associates have received support from Microsoft Research, Cisco, Nokia and Verizon. Perhaps there will soon be a day when you don’t have to charge your iPhone every evening.

+ Duke University

Via Science Daily

Lead photo © Dominik Syka