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Software Helps Reduce Battery Drain on Mobile WiFi Devices

Justin Manweiler (Duke University)

Justin Manweiler (Duke University)

A graduate student at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina has developed software that coordinates mobile devices competing for WiFi signals and extends the battery lives of those devices. Computer scientist Justin Manweiler (pictured right) presented details about the software at the Association for Computing Machinery’s conference on Mobile Systems, Applications and Services, held this week in Washington, D.C.

WiFi technology enables laptop computers and smartphones to connect wirelessly to the Internet at high speeds, which encourages the use of high-bandwidth downloads, such as streaming audio or video. These downloads, however, can quickly drain the batteries on mobile devices, particularly when multiple users are competing for the same WiFi signal.

Manweiler’s software allows mobile devices to sleep — revert to a low-power state — while another device competing for the same WiFi signal is downloading data. This staggering of downloads enables devices to better coordinate their contention for the signal and extend the battery life of the devices at the same time.

The software, called SleepWell, will become more important as cloud computing and new mobile devices, such as tablets, become more popular, says Manweiler’s adviser Romit Roy Choudhury.  “The SleepWell system can certainly be an important upgrade to WiFi technology, especially in the light of increasing WiFi density,” Roy Choudhury adds.

Roy Choudhury’s research team at Duke, the Systems Networking Research Group, is supported by the National Science Foundation, as well as companies including Microsoft Research, Cisco, Nokia, and Verizon.

Read more: Platform, Tools Developed to Network Smart Objects

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