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New wearable tech on its way

Microsoft researchers have come up with a way to make wearable gadgets such as fitness trackers and smart watches go much longer between charges, according to a report by IDTechex.

The research project, called WearDrive, is the latest development in the researchers' broad effort to vastly improve the battery life of all our favorite devices. 

WearDrive works by offloading most of wearable gadget's most 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.   

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. WearDrive takes a completely different approach by offloading operations to the smart phone.   

"Everyone has been thinking of reusing what exists for mobile devices," Chandra said. "What we're saying is, 'It's a different paradigm. It's a different usage scenario.'"   Unlike a phone or other device you carry in your pocket or bag, a wearable is designed to always be on your body, gathering and providing information. 

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.   


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