Microsoft wants to extend your laptop's battery life by learning about your habits

A research team at Microsoft has revealed an idea that it thinks will help greatly extend the battery life of Windows laptops and tablets, which it hopes to see put inside consumer projects at some point in the future.

At the moment, batteries inside notebooks have a hardware-based approach for maintaining its charge. The new Microsoft research project, called Software Defined Batteries, has a different technique:

"It combines several different kinds of batteries, all of which are optimized for different tasks, into the same computer. Then, it works with the operating system to figure out whether the user is, say, looking at Word documents or editing video footage, and applies the most efficient battery for that task.""The system also uses a technique called machine learning to learn from a user's individual habits, so it can figure out how to extend battery life based on how that person is using the device."

The team behind the research project have built working prototypes of their battery concept and plan to officially present their ideas at next week's ACM Symposium on Operating Systems Principles.

Source: Microsoft (opens in new tab)

52 Comments
  • extend battery life by sending usage data to itself? lol
  • They may turn off some uncommon features so battery last longer
  • Like windows store
  • i laughed tbh
  • Cool...
  • As is W10 wouldn't spy enough already.
  • Wait when do they spy? Are you absorbed by the bad reporters of this world?
  • I thing they made this clear a few days ago
  • I was just going to say that of course, some people would complain about this, citing "privacy issues". As long as nothing is sent to MS (and I don't see why it would need to) I don't see any issues with it.
  • If you want to apply machine learning, you do need to send the data so it gets crunched in the cloud.
  • The "machine learning" aspect of it will be done in the cloud on Azure I'd imagine, but I wouldn't be worried by that personally
  • So, you don't want documents, tabs, favorite and other content synced between devices? You don't want cortana to be able listen to your voice and provide accurate responses. Those things are all done remotely on microsoft servers(ie in the cloud).  Also, microsoft has always used telemetry data to fix bugs and improve the software. So, there are definitely reasons why info needs to be sent.
  • I'm not sure this would need any data to be sent to MS apart from anonymous telemetry data. I personally have no problem with telemetry data, optional setting sync and Cortana (I use Cortana and sync my designs and would totally sync my favorites if it didn't mean I'd have to sync my browser history, too) but people would surely like the choice to disable this if it sends data to MS.
  • Seriously you people need to get a clue!  What could Microsoft possibly gain by spying on you?  Very little.  They could lose their entire business if they are caught doing something nefarious.  Customer trust is hard to regain.  I see a whole lot of people claiming "spying" but I have seen absolutly no proof that they are doing anything besides what they have already told us about (which is telemetry data). So if you have proof then please inform us; otherwise stop spreading idiotic FUD.
  • Well OneDrive/outlook can snitch on you to the authorities
  • Umm.. No
  • Windows XP, 7 and the rest sent diagnostic data as well to help fix bugs and improve the software. I wouldn't call that spying. If they start collecting personal data and using it for any other purpose than to make the product better, then it is spying. If we start getting targeted advertising based on the content of our emails or saved documents, then there is a real issue. Right now, there is no issue.
  • Google spying you but people didn't care. But when MS trying to get anonymous data. Everyone mad. Microsoft is software company while google is services company.they have lot similarity but different one many ways. Google core business processes is their search engine along with the services while Microsoft get their money from software licensing. Google need data for their advertisements network while Microsoft need data for fixing bug and new feature. Why would anyone compare this
  • That's why tracking is there.
  • Sounds like a great idea
  • So, your device's battery will behave like your processor. Is that what it means?
  • Yes, Similar to how the CPU throttles / adjusts it's performance as requires, except this could switch between different types of battery etc. I guess similar in a way to notebooks with dual GPU where it only uses the dedicated card when needed
  • It seems to me that if you only do a single type of task on that laptop, say video editing, then you will actually have less battery life. But if you switch between lots of different task types frequently throughout the day then you will get a boost. Another way to go about this without needing machine learning is to provide a separate and optimised battery to power the screen, for me the best way to save a lot of battery is to simply turn the screen brightness down to minimum, other things make a difference too but the screen brightness is most noticeable. Personally I would just prefer a larger battery, I really don't mind carrying around a 3-4kg laptop, especially if it gives me a good 18 hours of battery life. Everyone should stop being so obsessed with super thin and light laptops, sure its nice and looks great but you really loose out on battery and performance. Anyway, this research is still great and i really hope to see it in the field soon!
  • Separate battery for the screen doesn't sound like a bad idea, it does definitely make a huge difference in battery life - Windows even warns us of this unless the brightness is set pretty low. I was just having the same conversation about thicker devices this morning, I'd like to see less of a focus on slimmer and slimmer devices if it means better battery life. The charging technology is getting better and better, but that's not areal substitute for a genuinely long lasting battery
  • From what i understand, there wont be 1 battery but a number of batteries optimised for different tasks. Sounds really interesting.
  • Only think i can imagine is to have multiple batteries running at different voltages... the ones with higher voltage will last longer at intensive processes, the low voltage ones will be used for reading, browsing and stuff... but i still can't imagine it quite frankly...  i hope for the best!
  • After installing windows 10 battery is draining faster
  • Waste of time and money. Just increase the battery sizes.
  • Why not both?
  • Sure, let's carry a car battery around. Why not a backback full of batteries. The future is usually about lighter faster and better. This helps that.
  • Today's obsession with the slimness and weight of technology makes it difficult to increase battery sizes, so companies have to try to figure out how to better save the power available. Hopefully there's a big breakthrough in batteries sometime soon, though, because they can only conserve power so much....
  • nope, the real deal breaker would be a NEW type of battery. Everything is improving except one thing: BATTERY why?
  • Funnily enough for at least a decade we've been hearing about revolutionary battery designs. And did anything change? Nope, nada, nil, zilch. We're still stuck with Li-Ion and all their issues.
  • Tell me about it.
    Batteries are definitely the only things not improving Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • There is a limit how large it can hold. We can stick with 2000mAh battery but by taking different approaches it may last 2/3 times more I guess you're an old generation that unable to think out of the box. Improve is fine but we should not afraid to took different approaches if the outcome much better
  • Sounds futuristic
  • Interesting approach. I'm assuming it will somehow know when to use a specific battery for a specific performance task basically making it 'smart'. This could theoretically increase the usage of the device on a single charge as well as elongate the life of the battery in terms of charge/discharge cycles. Not only that, some of these features could be applied to current devices too hopefully with improved results. If I'm not mistaken Microsoft was doing a similar project but it involved phones with the use of 2 batteries each with its own purpose. One for intensive task and the other for idle tasks. And being that W10 is looking to go universal (across multiple devices) this could be HUGE !!!!! You guys know how exciting that is!!!!! BAM!!!! Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Wow... things are getting a bit excessive when battery-monitoring becomes part of a company's privacy policy  
  • This is cool
  • And people will cry out Windows 10 will be even more intrusive.
  • And the remaining battery life can be saved to one drive and transferred to my mobile ? And Cortana will give out the information I I say "show me my at risk applications consuming battery at this opportunity?" Uhhh come onnn MS, big bug speech
  • Never go full crazy.
  • Make the battery removable again, I hate how Laptops have internal batteries :\ I would never buy one that I cannot replace the battery on because they're only good for about 2 years and I keep Laptops for 5 years or so, I've used my last one since 2010 and it's still working perfectly today thanx to the battery that pops off.  Not like a Mobile where they age pretty fast so you go through them every 1-2 years, Laptops and PCs just don't develop fast and that's in large thanx to the long console cycle. My Desktop PC I also built in 2010 and I still have no reason to upgrade my CPU, the only upgrade Iv'e done is to a  750ti last year and that only cost £80 and it's maxing out all the games I'm playing at 1080p, performs better than a PS4...    
  • Google is already doing this in their Android Marshmallow.
  • Creepy lol
  • Article isn't clear enough, are we talking about several different physical batteries or simply the os controlling various hardware component power consumption?
  • Article is fine...it's just your ability to comprehend what is written that is at fault.
  • They realy need to do something about that, battery life went down by two hours on my Surface Pro 3, that's unecxeptable.
  • Too bad it won't be part of the surface pro 4. It is so ready for that!
  • my habit is porn
  • learn to extend battery life by stopping background shit that makes the user experience miserable
  • Smart idea