How will your computing habits change when we reach all day battery life?

Posted on 12 March 2009, Last updated on 10 October 2014 by

batteriesThis thought popped into my head today for no reason what-so-ever and I wanted to see if I could get a discussion started.

Imagine this: One year ago, there was a huge battery breakthrough. All of your mobile tech gadgets have a battery that is good for an entire day of computing. I’m not talking about what a big company calls “all day computing inch (maybe 8 hours?), I mean 24 hours of continuous use on a single charge no matter what task you are doing.

Now answer these two questions:

  1. How would your current computing habits be different (other than ‘work longer’)?
  2. Two years down the road, what would gadgets evolve into, knowing that they were designed with all day battery life in mind?

When you are done, tag some people who you’d like to hear thoughts from.

Allow me to start:

How would your current computing habits be different?

First of all I think I would remove all of the wireless radio toggle software from my devices. Why turn them off if we have the power? Second, I might carry a more powerful device as my pocket computer. I would probably use the UX180 in place of my current iPhone, knowing that I could get more done on the 180. There probably wouldn’t be much need to turn my devices off so I would have an always online status. Services like Google Latitude would be active on my devices so friends could see me and I could see them.  I used to carry my UX around in my pockets, but I also needed to bring the AC adapter with me.

Two years down the road, what would gadgets evolve into knowing that they were designed with all day battery life in mind?

I think that smaller devices that would function as notifies would become popular. Envision a normal looking wrist watch, that has 3G connectivity and GPS, aggregating all of your notifications (email, IM, social networks, etcetera) and tells you what is going on right then, without having to pull something out of your pocket. I imagine a vibration from the watch letting me know that a friend is nearby (located with something like Google Latitude), and clicking a button on the side of the phone at that time would connect via Bluetooth to my phone and call my nearby friend. The watch would display other short info like micro-blog updates or SMS from my phone right on its own screen. I think that HD content would be much more prevalant, given that even handheld cameras would be powerful enough to do all day HD recording. This might have an affect on demand for faster bandwidth because people would be flocking to YouTube to be uploading or watching lots of HD videos, and they would want to do it with the same speed that they are used to watching SD videos.

Tag, you’re it:

Jenn from

James and/or Kevin from JkOnTheRun

Also, link back to the people that linked to you, so they know that you responded.

34 Comments For This Post

  1. Steve 'Chippy' Paine says:

    How will your computing habits change when we reach all day battery life?

  2. animatio says:

    first let me say – that is not a new idea at all. it begann with the first
    handheld pc’s (dos, symbian later win) some 15 years ago now.

    1.How would your current computing habits be different (other than ‘work longer’)?
    therefore my answer is: not much, what chaned with the new devices is merely that they have become more powerfull and such became more the character of fully portable substitutes for desktop functions.

    2. Two years down the road, what would gadgets evolve into, knowing that they were designed with all day battery life in mind?
    in principle – more or less same answer as 1. 15 years did not change much, why in gods name the next 2? For me mobile computing devices together with mobile phone capabilites always were – and still are – instruments to lead and organize – a business, tasks, people, informations, communication, data. this is not dependent from twitter, youtube and social plattforms or streaming video or music for personal amusement or whatever in that direction. but from direct, secure and reliable data exchange within professional networks with standardized plattforms. again no new concept, but basics of itc.

  3. John says:

    1) My habits change in that I wont be as obsessive about recharging every time I’m near a USB port :-) For non-USB charged devices, I wont buy an extra charger for work, and a travel charger for my gear bag (but I might have one for true travel). With all day charging, I can comfortably wait until I get home for the evening.

    2) Two years? What I’d like to see happen:

    a) I hope there will be truly open phone, with a more open version of Android (“rooting” not required), Maemo, or something like a phone version of Ubuntu (I’d throw OS X into this hat, but I doubt it’ll ever be fully open, to the point of not requiring jailbreaking/rooting for some functionality). Maybe something like a slightly larger Nokia N97 (4.1″ 800×480 screen, and a full 5 row physical keyboard), that can act as a wifi access point for a larger computing device.

    b) A convertible tablet netbook with either fully vendor supported Ubuntu, Maemo, or OS X, 7″-10″ screen, and some form of WWAN option (PCI Express Mini Card), and Redfly software for controlling phones.

    If Android fixes it’s shortcomings (full gmail, full Google Reader, full Google Docs, better IM client, SyncML client for calendar, tethering, better SSH/VNC integration) then it might be interesting to see that on the netbook. Especially if Redfly software (both client and server) could be run on Android, and then you could use the two devices to remote control each other, based on context/situation.

  4. davetweed says:

    My take is similar-ish. For me the point of a battery with 12 hour charge (lets call that all day) is not that I can use the device all day, but that I can keep it in my bag “in case I want to use it” and carry it around for three or four days (say some random 0.5-4 hours use it day) before I need to think about recharging it. (Half the time my mobile phone shutsdown from low battery rather than because I’ve spotted that its low on power and recharged it “premptively”).

    For me the real important part about mobility isn’t having a device you can take with you so that you can use it: my old, heavy laptop can do that. Mobility is about having something so light and relatively small that you can have it with you all the time, even though you probably won’t use it just for the offchance that you will decide to use it. (I wouldn’t dream of lugging my old laptop anywhere if I didn’t have a good reason to think I’d be using it that day. I’ve just bought an Acer Aspire One that’s been in my rucksack without being used for the past two days.)

  5. EC says:

    I will start off with making the statement that I’m typing this on the same device I did my first email of today at 7am over 16hours ago, and it has not been on ANY kind of charge since, its on its last “bar” on it’s battery another couple of hours of active use or so. I’ve done around hundred emails and been in contact with ppl constantly over AIM & MSN messengers (which are both ALWAYS on on my device even if I’m not logged in on them). So from that point of view I consider myself already with an “always online status”, I’ve even used it as a phone today. Oh yeah its my Sidekick LX, not a toy at all a great marathon using device in fact. In fact I’ve been “always online” like that since the mid 90’s with GSM, WAP, SMS and mobile EMAIL devices and services.

    How do I see myself differently? Well surely by no means will I carry anything as bulky as the Sony UX, rather I’m convinced that things will fit into type Nokia E90, N810 or iPhone sizes but have full day (let’s keep it realistic and say the amount of hours our own human batteries last so less than 24hrs) and either run full OS natively or in virtual SW, or more realistically in cloud(s).

    If the battery life would change from silly 2-5 hours to 20 more hours, then obviously the rest of the technology would also have (which is closer to happening anyhow) so for instance a solution to be able to have the same resolution as on your desktop in your pocket I believe will be possible without needing a microscope :) I don’t have the answer to how it will be resolved but I’m sure it will.

    Ben, I hate to brake it to you but mobilephones with data and BT even with smarphone/PDA in it for your wrist are already out there, there was at least three different brands out at CES, the only downside to a couple were no US GSM bands on them. GPS watches Casio had in the 90’s!? BT watches that tells acts like a bridge between you and your mobilephone is also on the market. A couple of such watches are the Ericsson MBW-100/MBW-150, you think with all these news sites on gadgets people would be aware of what’s out there already :). But none of these have really hit it big time with the public.

    When I can have a FULL desktop OS in your pocket that lasts all day, I will just spend the last 10-20% of my (computing) day on the go also, and not at my desktop. The only thing I use a desktop for really is the 3rd party SW I need daily that I can’t in any way stick onto my mobile devices.

    I think it was Chippy that pointed out somewhere today that the N810 is a great piece of HW that I fully agree with, and I feel the same about the Nokia E90, both are great form factors, and could have great potential with the “right” OS and battery time.

  6. Vakeros says:

    Agree with EC. There is a lot out there already. It just isn’t mainstream.
    If we weren’t so reliant on MS OS then we have most of what we need. The key change of all day battery is you don’t need a desktop base unit. A simple UMPC with decent docking capabilities, to act as your base. You could then have two speed CPU stepping, NOT because of battery issues, but because of heat. In a docking situation the plate you dock with coudl/should also be for cooling the device and so allow a faster clock speed without overheating. Of course in your hand it isn’t so easy. Also the size of the battery becomes important. If an all day battery is the size of watch batteries today then that allows much greater flexibility in design. However to keep it more realistic I assume you are taking batteries to remain the same size just last ten times longer. Well even then some might say I don’t need 24 hours, I’ll settle for 12 and have a battery half the size and thus still have greater flexibility in design.
    My own feeling is that if screen, SSD and radio demands could be reduced more then we have greater design opportunities.

  7. EC says:

    While I am not very reliant on MS OS (as mainly an OS X user now for the second year and counting), I most def need programs (about a handful) that are only made for MS OS, however switching to OS X has also forced me to open my eyes to various slutions like VMware, Parallels, and last but NOT least CrossOver, the last generations of CO is quite smooth.

    The reason I especially point out CO is that unlike the two others it enables you to install prgs that are designed for MS without having to have (read no buying or pirating needed!) MS OS at all, I am eagerly waiting for a time when CO (or some other SW?) enables us to do that to such OS’ that would be otherwise practical to have in our pocket.

    This kind of ties into what I’ve been saying before, I frankly believe that one could make such a 24hour device right now today, but not by some breakthrough battery solution, but take the (yes I’ll mention my “toy” again :)) SK I use for around 20hrs as it is, yes no 3G but the battery is not very huge in it, yet it has 1540mAh at 3.7V, so:

    1) Double the battery capacity.
    2) Make 3G possible to switch on/off or make it semi-automatic so that 3G doesn’t engage even when available unless you really need it, like streaming audio/video or downloading files or some other of that nature activity. But do NOT have 3G running for your regular email checks, IMs etc etc, for that EDGE is just fine, and gives you so much more time for your battery capacity.
    3) Utilize ideas like VMware has done for the Nokia N810 but perhaps with a CrossOver way of doing it, meaning no need for actual MS OS but the ability to install such on it.

    With these and a few other interesting solutions we could have a 24hour device with “all capabilities” in our pocket in 12 months, but yeah there’s really no drive by HW and SW companies to get together and do this currently I believe.

  8. Ben says:

    I know that there are already devices that have some of the capabilities that I listed, I’m not thinking of entirely new things that don’t even exist yet, I’m simply theorizing about them becoming main stream. With a great battery it would be much easier for something the size of a watch to maintain a constant GPS lock and be exchanging 3G data (or even 4G by then) and fit it all in a normal looking watch. I know that there have been phone watches before, but nothing main stream because they’ve never been able to do it in a small enough space to make it look as though it is just a normal watch.

    I’m also going to add some additional thoughts to my post; some things I forgot to mention.

  9. EC says:

    OK thought you weren’t aware of them being around. But I don’t know if the size of the BT watches are particularly huge or not normal looking? I’d say the opposite almost, dull looking :)

    But yeah IF we had batteries as you describe it would change things and how we relate to them now for sure! You know while we dream about things like this I don’t think its that impossible that we might see it within two or so years, but not as much a revolutionary battery as much as 1) Improved battery 2) Improved SW solutions that enables what we think of as Smart phones doing a long list of more tasks we think of FULL OS being able to today. 3) Solar panel or other charging methods, the wireless charging is one step towards this I think.

  10. EC says:

    On your HD comments this came to mind which I heard on the radio a couple of days ago:

  11. EC says:

    Here you go Ben :)

  12. Mike says:

    I’m not nearly such an arrogant fool about it as EC (the sidekick is a POS and a joke toy to boot, you can’t expand its functionality, what are you doing for GPS – case rested) but I am forced to answer these questions in agreement with a simple “no change”.

    Battery is not the problem stopping me from change. What is stopping me is screen size as it relates to battery, and more importantly, mobility. My habits will change when screens can be rolled and a high resolution 28″ screen can be powered all day by a battery.

  13. Vakeros says:

    I think Ben is trying to dig out how our habits will change when we get mobility. I personally don’t think roll out screens are the answer for mobility, for example if I am on the train I wouldn’t want to unroll 28″ screen. Hard to see how you could only unroll 14″ because it would have to be diagonal. I can’t wait for holographic projectors which you could enlarge or reduce as required, and them being interactive with gestures.
    My life at work wouldn’t change much at all, as I don’t require continual connection – though if I had it I would use it. I want to get a waterproof phone watch which is the same size as a watch nowadays. Due to screen size I wouldn’t require much from it, but rather for it to be connected with a separate unit which has a larger screen and a keyboard. For me 5″ is big enough.
    How things would change in a couple of years is hard to say as it is reliant not on the battery but on other technologies. I would use something like the Viliv S5 but in a Psion 5MX body.

  14. EC says:

    Yeah I ran across this yesterday and while a lot of it is very science fiction still I think plenty of it could be real in the near future:

    My point with posting that is just like I posted earlier, I don’t have the answer to HOW a larger screen (as we call it now) would be possible to stick in my pocket, personally I am not very appealed by the micro projectors or goggles of various types, but I am sure there will be a solution that is more realistic in the future.

    While Ben’s idea wasn’t directly talking about being connected to the web constantly he (I think) mentioned this because many of us use the web constantly. However if your full OS (now known as your desktop/laptop) device could be carried in your pocket and stay on for as long as let’s say YOU yourself :) can stay “on” would it change anything?

  15. Ben says:

    I saw that world builder video a few weeks ago and I think it is awesome. As an avid gamer, I’m really interested in where virtual reality, and augmented reality will take us. I’m mad that there hasn’t been an HD release of the world maker demo.

  16. EC says:

    Gamer huh? I see now where your fantasy capabilities come from like 24 hour battery times :)

    I’ve never been too keen on games, nevertheless I feel I really live in a virtual world with three w’s :)

  17. EC says:

    “I’m not nearly such an arrogant fool about it as EC (the sidekick is a POS and a joke toy to boot, you can’t expand its functionality, what are you doing for GPS – case rested) but I am forced to answer these questions in agreement with a simple “no change”.”

    1) Due to close mindedness like this I am often reluctant to mention the name of my device, as really to be honest I had similar thoughts about the SKs myself before I tried one.

    2) GPS, if you would’ve followed my posts in the past you would know that I personally feel that 3G nor GPS doesn’t belong in your pocket yet due to how battery technology is not there yet to support these in a way that would make using them practical. You would also if you read this site more frequently know that the SK LX 09 will have built in GPS along with 3G (still I don’t really need either, if it was the only updates to the next SK I don’t think I’d buy it, but as it isn’t the only thing I obviously will be getting it in a couple of months or so) . You also would know about the fact that I have a SK LX *and* an iPhone as that way I get kind of the best of two worlds, as yes of course there are things the SK isn’t able to do (this too I have acknowledged plenty of times, I try not to be a fool :), the arrogant part I’m still working on, yes!)

    P.S. Who is the arrogant fool? :)

    “but I am forced to answer these questions in agreement with a simple “no change”.”

    I doubt that would be the case, obviously this might very well be true that no change for you or us in general in two years from now, but by the time we would have 24 hour battery times, for sure you and everyone else would have changed their habits, heck current gadgets wouldn’t even be supported anymore, it’d be like carry around one of those first generation Motorola or Nokia (Mobira) mobile phones still today :) Keep in mind Ben’s question was HYPOTHETICAL, where my arrogance was triggered and targeted at the belief that Ben wasn’t aware that some of the things he mentioned already existed, but he has replied above in a professional manner to both my arrogance, and the statements :) Thank you BEN!

  18. Christian Kurz says:

    What really has to change alongside battery capacity is the charging Speed.
    What a silly thought: 20hours of batterylife but also 10 hours charging time.

  19. EC says:


    How many hours:

    1) Do you charge your current mobile phone vs. use it?
    2) Do you sleep on an average during every 24 hours?

  20. anon says:

    That should be fixed in a couple of years if this tech can get out of the lab soon:

    It’s basically a lithium-ion battery with a vastly improved surface structure to allow for much, much faster charging. Combine that with the earlier nanowire discovery and we’ll get seven-to-ten-fold increase in battery capacity and they’d still charge up in under a minute!

  21. EC says:

    Could the future be BATTERY LESS all together?

  22. Realty says:

    Having an all day battery would simply allow my UMPC to take the place of my smartphone. Always on and always connected. Instead of being limited to an Iphone or Rim operating system which is designed to save battery life and lacks some features, I could use the full MAC or PC operating systems and run anything I run on my normal desktop PC. I don’t see it changing my current computing habits because an all day MID will still not replace my laptop or desktop computer for heavy duty work. (You still are not going to want to touch screen or thumb a five page MS Word Proposal or elaborate Excel spreadsheet.)

    Two years from now, I could see phones appearing with these full operating systems thus completely blurring the line between a MID / UMPC and a Smartphone. (These super long life batteries would also extend the life of normal smartphones which would be great and also extend the life of note/netbook computers which I find less exciting unless you fly cross country a lot.)

  23. squirrel says:

    What do you think about this?
    $400 tablet 2lb 8.9” netbook based on TI OMAP 3 (ARM Cortex 8) platform with detachable screen than can work for 10-15 hours!
    Available for preorder in USA for June’09

  24. John says:

    That one does look interesting. It’ll be interesting to see Ubuntu and/or Maemo and/or Android ported to it. I’m also sort of hoping that the rumored Apple device for 3rd quarter will be of a similar format, only styled for Apple (and maybe running an Atom processor for full OS X).

  25. Christian Kurz says:

    Just read a solution to the charging problem (which perhaps would never have been a problem anyways ;-) )

    combined with Yu Ciu’s silicon nonwire batteries this makes exactly the vision we are talking about here.
    Naonwire Batteries:

  26. Pixel QI fan in waiting says:

    The device, when it has 15 hour battery per charge… will also have a sleep mode where it will be a cell phone at the same time. OR a cell phone can dock to it for use of that same battery as the cell phone for calls uses very little power already.

    I am expecting that you will see netbooks with 20 hours of battery life per charge (and when in sleep mode aka cell phone mode, it will have 30-50 hours of battery life per charge.

    It will be a great thing to have a netbook that you can use and not worry about the battery. Only thing needed is a AA battery standard size, that can be recharged in 15 minutes… all these different batteries make for unhappy consumers that have to take an extra battery with them for every device that they have. Of course even with 20 hours of use per charge, the battery will die when you do not want it too… so then, extra battery is needed, and that is why AA should be the standard for all netbooks, cell phones, and digital cameras (so all can share the same extra battery).

  27. Christian Kurz says:

    Stadard AA is rubbish as the standard only specifies 15,v which is way to less. Go for 14500`s. These are lithium batteries which are the same size as AA but offer the lithium typical 4,2-2,8v and higher capacity per weight.

  28. floor jacks says:

    It’s the first time I comment here and I must say that you provide us genuine, and quality information for other bloggers! Great job.
    p.s. You have a very good template for your blog. Where did you find it?

  29. EC says:

    As with most blogs you can find the theme info at the bottom, see the far right bottom of this webpage :)

  30. Ben Lang says:

    @KevinCTofel @jkendrick In case you guys missed it: or if you already saw it, don’t feel obligated to respond

  31. Ken says:

    absolutely no differences,

    because each day will still be only 24hrs,

    and you need to sleep for at least 6hrs/day,

    otherwise you will die for some unknown reasons.

    when you sleep, you can re-charge your laptop fully.

  32. DavidC1 says:

    It’ll make no difference in the long run. If they make a battery that allows 24 hour run time on UMPCs what’s gonna happen is the manufacturers will just put devices that use 2x more power but are more powerful as well and end up at 10-12 hours.

    10-12 hours is really the practical limit.

  33. Montblanc says:

    Great work! I also have my own blog I just find it hard to write quality content like this.
    I guess I really don’t have the time.

  34. Adrian Morgan says:

    When buying Cellphone Batteries make sure that you are not getting those chinese fakes and knockoffs.”;’

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