University of Michigan researchers find way to make smartphones perform idle listening more efficiently.A new “subconscious mode” for smartphones and other WiFi-enabled mobile devices could extend battery life by as much as 54 percent for users on the busiest networks.
University of Michigan computer science and engineering professor Kang Shin and doctoral student Xinyu Zhang presented their new power management approach at the ACM International Conference on Mobile Computing and Networking in Las Vegas. The approach is still in the proof-of-concept stage and is not yet commercially available.
Even when smartphones are in power-saving modes and not actively sending or receiving messages, they are still on alert for incoming information and they’re searching for a clear communication channel. The researchers have found that this kind of energy-taxing “idle listening” is occurring during a large portion of the time phones spend in power-saving mode—as much as 80 percent on busy networks. Their new approach could make smartphones perform this idle listening more efficiently. It’s called E-MiLi, which stands for Energy-Minimizing Idle Listening.
To find out how much time phones spend keeping one ear open, Shin and Zhang conducted an extensive trace-based analysis of real WiFi networks. They discovered that, depending on the amount of traffic in the network, devices in power-saving modes spend 60 to 80 percent of their time in idle listening. In previous work, they demonstrated that phones in idle listening mode expend roughly the same amount of power as they do when they’re fully awake.
“My phone isn’t sending or receiving anything right now,” Shin said, lifting his power-skinned iPhone, “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.” More