‘Wi-Fi Napping’: The More You Sleep, The More (Battery Life) You Gain!

by Gaurav Kheterpal on July 4, 2011

Despite advances in mobile technology, battery drain is still widely regarded as a major challenge for smartphone manufacturers. The problem is more evident when you are on a slow Wi-Fi connection or a shared connection with a large number of people hogging the connection.

The slower your Wi-Fi access speed, the longer it will take you to download your files or browse the Internet. The longer your device’s Wi-Fi is enabled, the more the number of ‘collisions’ and therefore the more battery it will drain.

For humans, sleep is the best medicine. Sound sleep recharges our batteries and Justin Manweiler, a Duke University computer science graduate student, has successfully applied the same rule to smartphones. His software ‘SleepWelldoubles the battery life of Wi-Fi-connected devices by allowing access points to coordinate between themselves thereby allowing mobile devices to “sleep” while a neighboring device is downloading information.

Manweiler worked on a simple principle to turn off the Wi-Fi radio during those times it’s not actually needed. Wi-Fi collisions are a common occurrence when there are several overlapping access points. SleepWell puts your wi-fi device to “nap” until more bandwidth is available, therefore it may marginally delay your Internet access, but can potentially double your device’s battery life. He claims that proximity of wireless devices has a telling effect on a device’s battery life as well.

SleepWell is platform independent and is meant to be installed on Wi-Fi routers and access points. Therefore, it will work just as well on the iPhone, an Android device, a WP7 phone or any other smartphone. Manweiler clarifies that Wi-Fi naps are different from sleep mode on most smartphones/ laptops that kick in after a few minutes. He claims that in most cases, the sleep periods are so short that the user remains unaware and unaffected.

The SleepWell-enabled wifi access points can stagger their activity cycles to minimally overlap with others, ultimately resulting in promising energy gains with negligible loss of performance,” Manwelier said in a statement.

Manweiler presented SleepWell at the ninth Association for Computing Machinery’s International Conference on Mobile Systems, Applications and Services (MobiSys) being held in Washington, D.C.  His paper mentions

“Our key finding is that WiFi energy optimizations have conventionally been designed with a single AP (access point) in mind. However, network contention among different APs can dramatically increase a client’s energy consumption. Each client may have to keep awake for long durations before its own AP gets a chance to send packets to it. As the AP density increases in the vicinity, the waiting time in?ates, resulting in a proportional decrease in battery life.”

Though it’s still early days, the ‘SleepWell’ concept looks promising as it will help to save your smartphone’s or tablet’s battery for those times when you really need it. Can ‘SleepWell’ provide a one-stop solution for all ‘Wi-Fi battery drain’ issues? What do you think of this technology’s prospects? Share your opinion by leaving a comment.

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Written by: Gaurav Kheterpal. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.comby: RSS,TwitterFacebook, or YouTube.

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