One way to develop longer-lasting batteries is to alter the chemical makeup of battery packs, and a number of researchers are looking for ways to do that. But a group of researchers at Microsoft are working on a way to make existing batteries last longer by using software.
Software-defined batteries use a system of multiple batteries of different types, assigned to specific components within the laptop. It’s not just that there would be multiple batteries inside the laptop, but that there would be different types of batteries.
One could be lithium-ion based for components that need massive amounts of energy, while another could be nickel-cadmium based for components that don’t need as much energy, but need to stay juiced for longer periods of time.
Each battery is assigned to different tasks and communicates with the operating system to check which tasks are currently active. The operating system applies the most efficient battery to a task.
Machine learning is also used, which means that the operating system eventually customizes its behavior to a specific computer. For example, the system might learn that you unplug your laptop every day at about 6:00 p.m. to check your email. Or, it might learn that you stream movies on Netflix on Saturday mornings. The operating system would determine what you normally do at different times of the day and quickly assign batteries to the tasks.
Although the research is currently focused on laptops and tablets, Microsoft says it plans to work on implementation across other devices, including smartphones and automobiles.