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Speed and convenience - it's the battery win-win

I know wearables are no new concept and we already have plenty of devices that enable wireless charging, health monitoring, tracking and contactless payment, but it’s interesting to see how this technology is developing and it’s interesting to anticipate what the next development will be.

It’s not uncommon for wearables – and non-wearables ­– to be charged wirelessly now. The Apple Watch is a prime example of this.

In the latest issue of New Electronics, we spoke of a biometric ring that can be charged wirelessly called the Oura and monitors your activity, sleep and even breathing patterns. This device is said to retain its charge for up to a week and take less than 80 minutes to recharge.

With battery life extending, the need to stop and recharge becomes less frequent. It’s this ‘always busy’ generation we are living in, at least in my opinion, that is encouraging developments such as these. And that isn’t a bad thing.

We are a society of speed and convenience. In fact, I may go as far as to say this is the whole purpose of consumer electronics: to create devices that are fast and make life easier/better. We have come to expect that our electronic devices should be able to be used frequently and charged less. We want the best of both worlds and nothing in between. Let’s call it the ‘battery win-win’.

Late last year, there was a lot of news over the performance of older iPhone batteries. In response to the criticism it received, Apple said they would reduce the price of out-of-warranty iPhone battery replacement and issue an update to provide users with more visibility of the health of their phone battery. The point is that battery life is very, very important. Developers know it and consumers know it. Our lives are so reliant on technology that when batteries fail, it has the potential to put everything on hold – our social life, our enjoyment and our work. We strive for technology that can offer us this ‘battery win-win’.

I’m not saying that our busy lifestyles are the sole reason for such developments in battery life and it’s not just wearables that are benefiting from this extension either. The medical industry and automotive sectors may start to see benefits too. There is work going to create electronic-based implants that last a patient’s lifetime, potentially removing the need for invasive surgery. Inductive coils are being placed under roads to enable charging on the go. So, the need for long lasting, powerful wireless batteries is becoming more evident by the minute.

It was Bankwest’s launch of an electronic smart device disguised within a ring that sparked the initial inspiration for this blog. This wearable device, known as the ‘Halo’, has the ability to store your bank details. Essentially, it acts the same way your bankcard does – it even expires like a bankcard.

What I find particularly interesting about the Halo is that it doesn’t require any external devices to operate, such as your phone or bankcard. This means you can leave the wallet behind and simply ‘ring’ payment through. It is literally cash in hand.

The Halo doesn’t need to be recharged either. It draws its power from the card reader in shops, which I assume is achieved through inductive coils. I’m unsure whether aspects such as frequency of use affect the battery or how long the Halo takes to draw power. But it has me wondering: could this start to become something we see more in electronic devices? And if we are surrounded by charging points like this, will we be able to charge everything on-the-go? Sounds like a battery win-win to me.

Bethan Grylls

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