Microsoft’s Research division, has today revealed details about a new project which the team is working on. The project, named ‘WearDrive’, is aimed at making wearable gadgets such as fitness trackers and smart watches go much longer between charges.
Microsoft Research’s WearDrive was presented as a paper in the annual USENIX Technical Conference in Santa Clara, California. The abstract reads,
This paper presents WearDrive, a fast storage system for wearables based on battery-backed RAM and an efficient means to offload energy intensive tasks to the phone. WearDrive leverages low-power network connectivity available on wearables to trade the phone’s battery for the wearable’s by performing large and energy-intensive tasks on the phone while performing small and energy-efficient tasks locally using battery-backed RAM.
In simpler terms, WearDrive works by offloading most of wearable gadget’s more energy-intensive storage operations to a nearby smart phone it is paired with, using a regular Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection. The wearable itself is then only responsible for doing smaller, less energy-intensive tasks, meaning it has a longer battery life.
Microsoft claims that WearDrive improves the performance of wearable applications by up to 8.85x and improves battery life up to 3.69x with negligible impact to the phone’s battery life.
Ranveer Chandra, a principal researcher at Microsoft Research, said many of the current wearable battery designs are based on the battery-saving tricks that were developed for smart phones. He further adds,
Everyone has been thinking of reusing what exists for mobile devices. What we’re saying is, ‘It’s a different paradigm. It’s a different usage scenario.
Since a wearable, unlike your smartphone or tablets, is designed to be always on your body for tracking various parameters, that represents stronger battery challenges for the wearable. Microsoft’s approach is pretty simple. It will load off battery-intensive tasks to your smartphone/tablets via wi-fi and let your wearable do less battery consuming tasks. Once your wearable is fully charged up, it can get back to normal.
The researchers tested their work on an Android phone and a compatible wearable device. They found that their system significantly improved the wearable’s performance and battery life while having only a minimal effect on the smart phone’s battery life. The tradeoff, they concluded, was worth it.
The system is designed so that the wearable can function without the smart phone, and then can work with the smart phone again when the two devices are again close by. That means users can go for a run or do another activity without always having to carry a smart phone.
And if you are aware of the wearable tech world, you would have probably faintly heard of Microsoft’s own wearable, the Microsoft Band. While the device in itself may not be known much, but it has gained critical acclaim for its longer battery life, as compared to others in the segment.
WearDrive is still being presented in the form of paper, so you can expect the tech to take a while before getting into actual wearables. However, when it does, it will be act as a big boost to the wearable industry, which despite Apple Watch’s grand launch and entry of numerous other player, hasn’t quite really been able to catch up with smartphones, or the rapidly evolving augmented reality space for that matter.