Friday, 23 November 2012

A case for regulating mobile device power consumption

We all love our smartphones, don't we? The more the merrier. Retina display, HD videos, GPS, Gaming - these are good, no doubt. But do we think what will happen when these devices proliferate in large numbers in an energy starved economy? In little drops we are draining away a mighty ocean.

India has 900 million mobile devices (roughly). For ease of calculation, assume each consumes 1 Watt-Hour of electricity a day. The more the talk time, the more the games and videos - more is the power consumed. This means every day we are spending 900 Mega-Watt-Hour of energy by using mobile phones. When we consider that we consume 2 Watts in effect instead of 1 Watt due to transmission losses and poor mobile designs, this is an alarming 1,800 MWh of energy consumed a day - roughly equal to running both units of Kudankulam nuclear plant for 1 hour at near full capacity.

Most device makers have very limited understanding of software-hardware interaction. They simply assemble and give you products to make quick bucks. The average margins in the market are between 30-50%. So why bother about power optimization?

In next 3-5 years as we move towards LTE/4G, power consumption in these little devices is going to increase dramatically from the current base. Device makers are likely to trade-off performance to power optimization. Hence it is essential for all of us to wake up to the issue of power wastage in mobile devices and look for better ways of power management. At Vigyanlabs, this is what we are working on. Try out our first Android offering - IPMPlus Touch2Sleep Beta.

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