Sunday, 30 June 2013

What I want from a battery charger

Battery chargers (and rechargeable batteries) are interesting products. Like many other complex products there are a fair number of things to consider when buying one, but most consumers don't understand what they should buy and why. If you're similarly in the dark, the Wikipedia page has useful information on the differences between smart, manual and timer chargers, and the benefits of smart chargers.

So why am I interested in battery chargers? Partly for environmental reasons (we throw away too many batteries), partly for efficiency (we don't make good use of our batteries). I think rechargeable batteries are a  great case study on making more efficient and environmentally-friendly use of our resources.

What do I want from a battery charger? Much of what the top-end battery chargers do: separate channel charging; smart charging cycle management; refresh/reconditioning; battery capacity testing; etc. This is all useful getting best use out of batteries, and in lengthening the mean time before replacement.

But what battery chargers don't seem to do, however, is collect data. Charging data (voltage/time) and battery capacity testing data can easily be collected by a charger and communicated to computers via wifi (or Bluetooth). This information could be transmitted back to manufacturers (via the Internet) to aid in their battery or charger development, and to give them real-world use data. To get really granular data, each battery could be printed with a unique barcode or QR code. This would allow sensors in the charger to collect per-battery data, transmitted to users, and back to manufacturers. (Consumers could be provided with stick-on bar codes to label up existing batteries.)

1 comment:

Keith Edwards said...

I'd agree that these are all features a discerning battery charger owner would want. Most battery chargers already do this, save for the transmission of data. While this could be a very handy resource, this could probably eat up on resources and might be cost-prohibitive. Though some chargers already show a battery's status. Technology has some way to go; and with costs coming down, I don't see why your suggestions won't happen in the near future. Cheers!

Keith Edwards @ Apex Chargers