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Consumer Technology Duke student develops SleepWell software to save battery life for WiFi laptops and other devices

Published on July 1st, 2011 | by Tina Casey


Student’s WiFi Software Could Double the Life of Your Laptop Battery

July 1st, 2011 by  

WiFi downloads can drain your laptop or smartphone battery more quickly when you’re in an area with heavy WiFi traffic. Here’s one solution.

Duke student develops SleepWell software to save battery life for WiFi laptops and other devicesWiFi downloads can drain a battery so fast it would put True Blood to shame, especially if you are using a smartphone or laptop in an area where other WiFi devices are lurking. Now a grad student at Duke University, Justin Manweiler, has developed software that enables your mobile device to sniff out other Wifi users nearby. Manweiler’s “SleepWell” system will put your device into a trance until your neighbors are finished downloading their latest episode of – well, True Blood or whatever, then arouse it whenever its turn comes up.

The WiFi Battery Drain Problem

Mobile devices run into WiFi problems when wireless traffic is heavy, because they have to take turns for downloads. While waiting for a turn, the devices stays in a waking mode. SleepWell simply enables the device to stay in a less power-hungry mode, until its turn comes up. The most obvious utility for the software is in urban areas, but it could also be a great help in rural and suburban college campuses, office parks, and other places where laptop users congregate.

Energy Conservation, Clean Energy and Cloud Computing

The era of the desktop plug-in is rapidly drawing to a close, at least as far as personal devices go, and with the advent of cloud computing the demands on WiFi services are going to continue to rise. With that in mind, software like SleepWell could have a significant impact on energy use patterns in the future. Extended battery life means more time between recharging, for one thing, and less use of electricity from centrally generated fossil fuel plants. It could also provide solar-powered laptops and other alternative energy forms with greater range and flexibility.

Image: Laptop keyboard by Baddog_ on flickr.com.

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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

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