Watch maker Swatch is taking aim at one of the biggest problems with smartwatches: horrible battery life. You need to charge an Apple Watch every day. Most smartwatches using Google’s Android Wear or Samsung’s Tizen software only get 2-3 days of run time. And you need to charge Pebble watches every week or so.

But Swatch says it’s working on a new type of high-capacity battery that could let smartwatches run for up to 6 months between charges. The battery technology could also be used in electric cars.

swatch

Swatch CEO Nick Hayek recently made remarks about its battery research to Swiss publication Handelszeitung and Reuters received confirmation that the company really does plan to launch a new type of battery in 2016.

While Hayek talks about a battery that would last for 6 months, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’d be 24 times more powerful than the battery in a Pebble smartwatch.

In fact, Handelszeitung says it’ll only offer up to twice the capacity of existing batteries. But that could be enough to let a watch with very basic “smart” features run for months at a time.

The Withings Activité Pop has an analog display and silent notifications but it also has sensors for activity tracking and pairs with a smartphone via Bluetooth 4.0. The watch gets up to 8 months of battery life with existing battery technology.

Swatch unveiled its own fitness-tracking watch earlier this year. It’s not exactly a smartwatch, but the Swatch Touch Zero One has a fitness tracker that can count steps and even “Beach Volley” activities while offering “months and months” of battery life.

Still, if Swatch does manage to create a more efficient battery, it could be huge news. While device makers and chip designers have been working to offer better battery life by making products that are more energy efficient, battery technology has improved pretty slowly over the past few decades. Often the only way to get longer battery life for your smartphone, tablet, notebook, automobile, or smartwatch is to cram a bigger, heavier battery into the device.

On the other hand, while Swatch’s battery might offer 6 months of battery life for a device like the Touch Zero One, it might only offer 2 days of run time for a device like the Apple Watch.

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6 replies on “Swatch wants to reinvent the battery (for smartwatches… and cars)”

  1. if two witches watched two swatch watches which witch would watch which swatch watch?

  2. Talk about swallowing corporate press releases uncritically. Other companies are pouring more R&D into battery research than Swatch’s entire market cap. The entire mobile electronics industry, the electric car industry and several others are desperate to find a better battery. While a Eureka! can happen in an unexpected place, the smart money wouldn’t be on a watchmaker to revolutionize what is essentially a chemical process.

    1. I actually chose my language pretty carefully — I never said Swatch *will* do these things… just that they *say* they will and if they do it’ll be a big deal.

      Also, unlike some of the articles I’ve seen on the topic, I tried to make it clear that even in the best case scenario Swatch isn’t promising *all* smartwatches would last for up to 6 months with this new battery. It’s just making the claim that it can maybe get up to twice as much capacity.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if they do that using a combination of some new technology and the tried and true method of just cramming a huge battery into their upcoming product. That Touch Zero One fitness-tracking watch of theirs doesn’t exactly look tiny.

    2. Maybe not, but sometimes that kind of thing happens. I’m skeptical as well, and while it’s logical that a breakthrough would come from a company that is heavily invested in battery research, if it comes from somewhere else that’s fine too.

  3. So how exactly is this relevant to anything other than the customized utilization on eh Swatch? It may only extend Apple Watch to two days – so why is this news-worthy?

    1. Because it would look great in an Apple Ad, “New Apple Watch” has twice the capacity of the original.

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