A “subconscious” energy saving mode could improve battery life in smartphones by as much as 54%, according to researchers working on the project.
The team of computer scientists from the University of Michigan believes the E-MiLi project could solve the problem of “idle listening”, in which smartphones are constantly on the the look-out for incoming messages and data, eating into battery life.
"My phone isn't sending or receiving anything right now," said project leader professor Kang Shin. "But it's listening to see if data is coming in so I can receive it right away. This idle listening often consumes as much power as actively sending and receiving messages all day."
According to Shin, the approach would make smartphones perform this idle listening more efficiently - important given that the scientists claim phones spend up to 80% of their time idly listening.
The scientists' plan centres on turning down the clock on the phone's Wi-Fi card so that it operates at 1/16 of its normal frequency, which would draw far less power while still leaving the device alert enough to notice incoming traffic.
"We came up with a clever idea," Shin said. "Usually, messages come with a header, and we thought the phone could be enabled to detect this, as you can recognise that someone is calling your name even if you're 90% asleep."
When used with power-saving mode, the researchers claimed that E-MiLi is capable of reducing energy consumption by around 44% for most phones, and as much as 54% for those on busy networks.
According to the scientists, they have developed firmware to make the concept work on phones and computers, but Wi-Fi chipset manufacturers would have to adopt the modifications.
This article originally appeared at pcpro.co.uk