Wednesday, August 15, 2018

A researcher at Waterloo Engineering has helped find a novel method to extend the battery life of smartphones for up to an hour each day.

Kshirasagar Naik, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, collaborated with researchers in India to develop an app that can reduce the energy consumption of smartphones without any significant impact on performance.

Kshirasagar Naik

Kshirasagar Naik

“The built-in multi-window feature released with the new Android operating system allows users to have multiple windows and files open at the same time similar to a laptop, but this results in unnecessary energy drain,” said Naik.

“We have developed an app which users can install on their devices and use to reduce the brightness of non-critical applications. So, when you’re interacting with one application, the brightness of the other window goes down and thereby reduces the energy consumption of the device.”

The app was evaluated in an experiment involving 200 smartphone users, who downloaded the software on their devices and used it while they had multiple windows open. It was found that when the energy-saving technique was used it extended battery life by 10 to 25 per cent.

App relieves 'big pain' for smartphone users

“What happens now is that you put the phone on a charger for the night and when you leave home the next day the battery is at 100 per cent, but there is a lot of behind the scenes computation and communication going on, and it drains the battery,” said Naik. “By midday the charge is reduced to 30 per cent. So, you need to charge the battery many times in a day, and from the user’s perspective that is a big pain.

“Due to the excess energy consumption, the phone becomes warmer and warmer while the frequent charging reduces the life of the battery. So, batteries that are meant to last for three years may have to be replaced in two years.”

The study, MultiDroid: An Energy Optimization Technique for Multi-Window Operations on OLED Smartphones, was co-authored by Naik and Milind Kumar Rohit, Chiranjeev Kumar and Ginny, all of the Indian Institute of Technology. It was recently published in IEEE Access, an open access journal of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

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