Wearables have taken the accessory market by storm. Gone are the days of wearing a simple analog watch that only tells the time; at least not when you can get one that tracks your steps, monitors your heart rate, syncs with apps on your smart phone, and much more. But how long will your wearable last between battery charges? Devices that can extend battery life are becoming essential.
According to Lauren Goode (2016), “Battery life is, arguably, the biggest pain point in wearables right now.” Many activity tracker or smartwatch batteries last anywhere between five days and several months on a single charge, depending on how much they can do. James Park, Fitbit co-founder and CEO, agrees that battery life is a difficult issue to address, as most advancements rely on the processor makers (Goode, 2016).
While there has been little significant progress within batteries themselves, the connectivity that wearables use can also affect power consumption. For sending a small amount of data over a short range, Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) is ideal, but higher quantities of data are better suited for Bluetooth Classic or Wi-Fi (Gough, 2016). Sensors and trackers placed at farther distances (as opposed to a smartwatch that is often close to a smartphone) will need low power, low latency options to extend battery life and preserve efficient data transfer.
Wake-Up Radio being developed by IEEE 802.11ba standards task group is one such option that can be used in conjunction with a Wi-Fi radio. This device only activates the Wi-Fi radio when it receives a signal unique to that device; otherwise, it “sleeps” quietly while using minimal power. Using Wake-Up Radio can significantly extend battery life to years, which would make Internet of Things (IoT) devices like wearables more useful and worthwhile.
You can find out more about Wake-Up Radio and how to utilize this technology with IoT devices your organization develops in the IEEE Technology Report on Wake-Up Radio: An Application, Market, and Technology Impact Analysis of Low-Power/Low-Latency 802.11 Wireless LAN Interfaces, coming soon!
Goode, L. (2016, Jan 15). Don’t expect battery life miracles in wearables anytime soon. The Verge.
Gough, P. (2016, Aug 17). Provisioning reliable wireless connectivity for wearables. Electronic Design.