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Bluetooth Keyboards With a 10-Year Charge Promised 270

Posted by samzenpus
from the I'll-wait-for-11 dept.
angry tapir writes "Broadcom is working on a Bluetooth chipset that will give wireless keyboards a battery life of up to 10 years. If they had a battery life of as long as 10 years, that Bluetooth-based accessories could potentially never need new batteries, the chip maker said. A set of two AA batteries would be enough to power a keyboard using the BCM20730 Bluetooth chip to connect with a computer for its entire lifetime, Broadcom said."
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Bluetooth Keyboards With a 10-Year Charge Promised

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  • Ha! (Score:5, Funny)

    by RobinEggs (1453925) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @07:14PM (#38297572)
    Hahaha...whew, that's a good one.

    Now tell me we're gonna have flying cars 'within the next 15-30 years'.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      We're gonna have flying cars 'within the next 15-30 years'

      • by NFN_NLN (633283)

        We're gonna have flying cars 'within the next 15-30 years'

        Technically the batteries will last 10 years, it just has an aggressive sleep mode!

        It goes to sleep after 0.5-0.75s of no activity and takes 2-3 seconds to wake up again :)

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by errandum (2014454)

          I don't think current battery technology lasts that long, especially store bought AA's.

        • Sounds good to me. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by anubi (640541) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @08:57PM (#38298508) Journal
          About ten years ago, I bought a Memorex wireless keyboard at Pic-n-save aka "Big Lots".

          I think I paid about $10.

          Much to my amazement, its still running on a pair of "Everready lithium" batteries I put in when I first got it.

          I put those batteries in everything that I have a tendency to ignore maintenance on, like remotes. I have never seen one of those lithium cells leak yet.

          Its been one of those things with me that alkaline cells, regardless of who made them, leak. Even if they aren't dead yet.

          I rarely use the keyboard, but when I do, it works. It only transmits ten feet or so, but its enough. It feeds an old P166 I have loaded with DOS and WIN95 to run my old DOS stuff.

          What impressed me so was that the keyboard had no on-off switch. For ten years, the keyboard has been sitting there waiting for me to press a key.

          My hat's off to the engineer who designed the thing.

          I would not mind paying more for this keyboard's electronics in a sturdier mechanical design, but for ten bucks, I thought I got a really nice little gadget.
        • Re:Ha! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by mwvdlee (775178) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @02:32AM (#38300334) Homepage

          Couldn't the bluetooth chip be powered by utilizing the kinetic energy of a human pressing a button. Many people would actually prefer a bit of physical resistance in the buttons of a keyboard.

          • by ColaMan (37550)

            Check out EnOcean [enocean.com] sometime.

            Wireless, kinetically powered switches, with up to 300 metres open-air range.

    • Re:Ha! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by VernonNemitz (581327) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @07:30PM (#38297774) Journal
      Actually, as long as chips keep getting smaller and need less power, something like this is almost inevitable. However, at some point it will be possible to dispense with batteries altogether, and just build solar cells into the keyboard. If you have enough light to see it, then you will have enough light to run it. Someday, even your smartphone or tablet (or combined unit) will be built that way.
      • Re:Ha! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @07:38PM (#38297866) Homepage Journal

        Or generate tiny amount of electricity from the key press.

      • Re:Ha! (Score:5, Informative)

        by Arrepiadd (688829) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @07:43PM (#38297914)

        You mean one day in the future we'll be able to have one of these [amazon.com]?

        Boy, can't wait...

        • Re:Ha! (Score:5, Informative)

          by Daetrin (576516) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @08:22PM (#38298244)
          Sarcasm aside, i picked one of those up when Amazon had a sale, and i've been rather amazed. It was an impulse purchase without any prior research done. I figured with both Logitech and Amazon's names attached it couldn't be a complete scam, but i though i'd probably have to be careful to make sure to put it under bright light every so often to keep it charged up or something, or that the signal strength might be a little weak to compensate. Or something anyways, never having to replace the keyboard batteries again just seemed too good to be true, as trivial as that seems.

          In actuality the signal strength is fine, better than my wireless mouse certainly, and not once when i've thought to check has it been below full charge despite being kept in our regular living room lighting conditions, which can be pretty dim at times. One of the coolest bonuses is a button you can press to launch a light meter app on your computer, which will tell you the lux [wikipedia.org] level the solar panels are currently being exposed to. It's been great fun to move the keyboard around and vary the lighting conditions to see how the value changes. It really brings home something everyone familiar with SF or photography is intellectually aware of, that the sun delivers a couple more magnitudes of light than we actually need to see comfortably with.

          They keyboard is also incredibly light and thin. My only complaints relate solely to the the way some of the keys and their functions are placed/handled, but that's pretty obviously an issue with design choices and nothing to do with the basic hardware. And despite those quibbles it's still leaps and bounds above my previous Microsoft keyboard. (Silly me, when i bought it online as the only wireless keyboard option for my PC package i was putting together i figured "it's just a keyboard, how badly can Microsoft screw it up?")

          Of course some people might not like the fact that it's not ergonomically shaped, but i prefer the old fashioned rectangular slabs :)

          I wonder if they could make a solar powered mouse to match? You'd have to use curved solar panels that didn't feel too weird while you were actually using the mouse...
          • by timeOday (582209)

            I wonder if they could make a solar powered mouse to match?

            I would LOVE it if they made one with a built-in trackpoint or touchpad (to control the computer on my TV from the couch), and neither of those requires powering a light source for the optical mouse, which would seemingly be a significant power draw.

            Although, the battery-powered wireless RF keyboard/touchpad I have now runs for months on 2 AAAs...

      • by Ihmhi (1206036)

        If you have enough light to see it, then you will have enough light to run it.

        Ihmhi musn't light the bas- the PAINKEEP! The light, it BURNS us!

        • Re:Ha! (Score:4, Informative)

          by sl149q (1537343) on Thursday December 08, 2011 @01:49AM (#38300194)

          Literally if you have enough light to see the technology to harvest it and put it to good use for telemetry exists.... See Cymbet's paper on the design of an Intra Ocular Pressure Sensor here: http://www.cymbet.com/pdfs/eeweb-article.pdf [cymbet.com]. Something small enough to fit in your eye, report pressure wirelessly and last 10 years without a battery.

          From the paper:

          To extend lifetime, the IOPM harvests light energy
          entering the eye with an integrated 0.07 square millimeter
          solar cell that recharges the battery. Given the ultra-small
          solar cell size, energy autonomy requires average power
          consumption of less than 10nW. For the majority of its
          lifetime, the IOPM is in a 3.65nW standby mode where
          mixed-signal circuits are disabled, digital logic is powergated,
          and 2.4fW/bitcell SRAM retains IOP instructions
          and data. The average system power with pressure
          measurements every 15 minutes and daily wireless
          data transmissions is 5.3nW. When sunny, the solar cells
          supply 80.6nW to the battery. The combination of energy
          harvesting and low-power operation allows the IOPM
          to achieve zero-net energy operation in low light. The
          IOPM requires 10 hours of indoor lighting or 1.5 hours of
          sunlight per day to achieve energy-autonomy

          This would certainly be usable to keep something like a keyboard working forever with a solar cell that was barely noticeable.

      • Solar cells would be somewhat ugly, and dependent on light in the room. You'd prefer to use a coil in the desk, that would provide wireless power to the keyboard, the mouse, and the monitor (or monitors). If power consumption is low enough, efficiency is not an issue.

        • Re:Ha! (Score:4, Interesting)

          by EdIII (1114411) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @10:52PM (#38299324)

          Logitech has a solar keyboard right now. Will run partially off the glow from a couple of LCDs. Normal light in the room is more than enough to run the device and keep a full charge. I have seen it run off low light levels too, like a 40w table lamp.

          Would rather have that than a magnetic field in my desk.

    • Re:Ha! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by sneakyimp (1161443) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @07:39PM (#38297880)

      Yep. I call shenanigans. I doubt there's a commercially available AA battery that'll reliably keep its charge for 10 years, much less power something.

      • Re:Ha! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by the_other_chewey (1119125) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @07:54PM (#38297992)

        Yep. I call shenanigans. I doubt there's a commercially available AA battery that'll reliably keep its charge for 10 years, much less power something.

        My alarm clock (seven-segment hh:mm:ss display, radio controlled) is running on one single
        AA battery since at least late 2004, so it is going into its 8th+ year now. It is a completely standard
        1.5V AA cell made by TDK (or at least sold under their name).

        No, I haven't checked the battery for radiation yet. Yes, it is beginning to scare me a bit.

        • Re:Ha! (Score:5, Interesting)

          by PRMan (959735) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @09:19PM (#38298672)
          I actually called Duracell to tell them that a clock that I got with a very loud rooster alarm every day for 12 years finally quit working. The Duracell batteries came with the clock. They asked me if there was any leakage from the 12 year old batteries and sent me a coupon.
      • by timeOday (582209)
        Energizer advertises a 15 year shelf life [energizer.com] for their Ultimate Lithium AA.

        Timex makes several watches [amazon.com] with an advertized battery life of 10 years.

        Besides, the battery doesn't particularly need to be in any standard form factor if it will never be replaced.

    • If the current draw is that low then you could just use a solar panel to recharge from room lights. Just like the calculators do. problem solved.

  • by syousef (465911) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @07:17PM (#38297600) Journal

    ...to increase battery life of course....and when they fail in 3 years instead of the promised 10, you get to go out and buy a whole new keyboard. (It lasts 10 years so why allow the user to change the battery).

    We're seeing this with point and shoot cameras now. As recently as 2-3 years ago models that ran on AA batteries existed and some of them had decent battery life (a couple of hundred shots with flash). Now every new camera model is tied to a different proprietary lithium battery. This is for the good of the consumer of course, not so the camera manufacturer can gouge on batteries and make it more cost effective for the customer to replace the camera every 2-3 years. Makes me want to spit.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by grahamsaa (1287732)
      I'm not sure what kind of camera you use, but the rechargeable, proprietary battery that came with my Canon DSLR has worked well for years and gone through hundreds of charge / discharge cycles without any noticeable reduction in battery life. While not as cheap as AA batteries, I just looked up replacement cost and found that I could get a new battery for about $30 -- not that I have any need to at this point. And while the battery is proprietary to canon, it's used in a number of their DSLR cameras, so
      • by syousef (465911) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @07:31PM (#38297786) Journal

        I'm not sure what kind of camera you use, but the rechargeable, proprietary battery that came with my Canon DSLR has worked well for years and gone through hundreds of charge / discharge cycles without any noticeable reduction in battery life. While not as cheap as AA batteries, I just looked up replacement cost and found that I could get a new battery for about $30 -- not that I have any need to at this point.

        And while the battery is proprietary to canon, it's used in a number of their DSLR cameras, so there's a good chance that if I replace my camera I'll be able to keep the old battery as a spare.

        Try getting that proprietary battery in another 5-10 years. There are vintage cameras operating today that are many decades old. This will not be the case in future.

        Also some manufacturers are worse than others and have a new camera per camera or set of similar cameras. Others re-use the same battery.

        What is needed is a set of standard sized Lithium batteries...There's no reason for the current mess other than planned obsolence and price gouging. Heck Sony has even started chipping their cameras the way printer manufacturers chip their cartridges to prevent 3rd party batteries from eating into their overpriced originals.

        • You make a good point -- I think that Canon is a lot better than some other manufacturers in this respect, but I just checked and their newest DSLRs are using a different battery which doesn't look like it'll work with my current camera. I think that having standardized battery types would be great -- it would be nice if batteries were as interchangeable as, say SD or CF cards. I see no reason why that isn't possible. That said, getting a hold of a CF card in 10 years may be tricky as well; guess we'll h
        • by GrpA (691294)

          This is an important point.

          I have three digital cameras, all less than 10 years old, sitting on a drawer for this very reason. Now I will not buy a camera that does not take AA batteries.

          However, in the context of keyboards, I do not keep a keyboard more than 10 years. I think the longest I ever had one was 9 years and the keys eventually broke. Great keyboard ( PS2 original ) but they have their limits.

          GrpA

        • by c++0xFF (1758032)

          Heck Sony has even started chipping their cameras the way printer manufacturers chip their cartridges to prevent 3rd party batteries from eating into their overpriced originals.

          Yeah, but knock-off printer cartridges don't explode [engadget.com] because they were made without protective circuitry.

        • is that there are so many to choose from. When cameras were larger, you had more room for batteries, but as there's increasing pressure to make them smaller and more power-hungry, that fails.

          If 2.4v is enough, you can use two AA batteries (most rechargeables only do 1.2v, but they hold a lot more power than 1.5v disposables), but it takes up a fair bit of space.

          3.6v and 3.7v LiPo rechargeable technology is becoming a widely available standard, with a range of different sizes and capacities, but needs

        • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @10:51PM (#38299320)

          Crack open that battery and what do you find? A couple of standard sized lithium batteries.

    • by chispito (1870390) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @07:27PM (#38297738)

      We're seeing this with point and shoot cameras now. As recently as 2-3 years ago models that ran on AA batteries existed and some of them had decent battery life (a couple of hundred shots with flash). Now every new camera model is tied to a different proprietary lithium battery.

      Yes, but the batteries are smaller, denser, and last longer. What is the problem, exactly?

      • by syousef (465911) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @07:37PM (#38297844) Journal

        We're seeing this with point and shoot cameras now. As recently as 2-3 years ago models that ran on AA batteries existed and some of them had decent battery life (a couple of hundred shots with flash). Now every new camera model is tied to a different proprietary lithium battery.

        Yes, but the batteries are smaller, denser, and last longer. What is the problem, exactly?

        Several problems:
        - Forget to charge your battery? You're out of luck! You won't be able to get a standard replacement alkaline battery for a couple of bucks at the corner store
        - Looked after your camera for many years and want to sell it or show your children a vintage camera? You're out of luck! Your battery is too old to hold charge and they don't make batteries for that model camera any more
        - Have a lot of different cameras, and want to share a couple of sets of batteries between them? You're out of luck. Each camera you own uses a different battery. You need at least one per camera
        - You're a camera enthusiast and want to buy spare battteries? You'll have to decide which camera you need a spare battery for. You can't afford $30 x number of spares x cameras

        I've seen a lot of silly justifications ranging from the technology keeps improving so why would you want to use the old camera to who owns lots of cameras. But I promise you for me and many others these things matter. We talk about recycling and reuse, have shopping bags too flimsy to hold our goods that we are now charged for, conserve water, and use less than optimal lighting solutions to conserve energy, but the moment a company stands to make a profit by making something throw away or selling you a whole bunch of junk when one item would suffice, well the environment goes out the window. It's moronic to be this wasteful.

        • I don't know... Having MULTIPLE $500 cameras... And hundreds more in accessories, and complaining that an extra $30 rechargable battery or two is kind of silly.

          Of course that's why companies feel they can gouge:). I do think that when they get into chipping batteries there are issues with how you make the thing work in 10 years... I know plenty of people with 10 yr old SLRs that keep going...

          • No its not -- its bullshit greed, pure and simple. I'm and sick and tired of proprietary shit. It's inefficient, and wastes MY time trying to find the "proper" battery for device X.

            Why do you think we have _standards_ such as AA, AAA, C, D batteries for? Or USB that allows devices to charge.

            We need _standards_ for lithium-ion batteries as well.

            • by mirix (1649853)

              We have them already [wikipedia.org]. (sort of, at least. I don't think they are formal standards [IEC or EIA or whatnot], but they are at least de facto standards.)

              Every laptop battery I've taken apart is just based on 18650 cells. Why the laptops don't just take the cells alone is something I may never understand. Probably because they only have $10 worth of cells, and they'd rather sell you a $50+ battery.

              It would be nice if they standardized some of the flat, polymer batteries though. like the kinds used in mobile phon

        • It's obviously clunky, but it shouldn't be hard to set up an external battery pack with four AA rechargeables and a USB output. If you want to get fancy, add a voltage regulator chip as insurance, in case your camera doesn't have one built in, or just trust that 4x1.2 - 4x1.5 is safe.

        • by Viceice (462967)

          Well it really depends on the camera you buy. If you want one of those ultra slim compacts, that will fit in your pocket, a slim LiPo batt makes sense.

          Buy for professional dSLRs where you depend on your camera for your work, the handgrip battery compartment comes with a magazine which will accept AAs.

          The drawback is you need EIGHT AAs to do the same job of the regular battery, which is only slightly larger than a C cell.

      • It's because AA batteries are an inconvenient form factor for a device that should be small and mostly rectangular...

        You can still get them, but they're bulky compared to ones made with a boxy battery - http://www.usa.canon.com/cusa/consumer/products/cameras/digital_cameras/powershot_a1200 [canon.com]

        Give it some time and we may see a standard emerge there. Digital cameras are still not a mature product yet.

      • by cultiv8 (1660093)

        "xyzzy" Nope, still at work.

        A hollow voice says "fool."

    • I used to be a big fan of AAs in cameras, but I'm pleased with the performance of my Li-Ion in my new camera. Battery management is a lot easier. I also picked up a spare battery for $5 off Amazon.

    • by mirix (1649853)

      This was my first thought too. 'never need to change the battery' is newspeak for 'no user-replaceable battery'.

    • As recently as 2-3 years ago models that ran on AA batteries existed and some of them had decent battery life (a couple of hundred shots with flash). Now every new camera model is tied to a different proprietary lithium battery. This is for the good of the consumer of course, not so the camera manufacturer can gouge on batteries and make it more cost effective for the customer to replace the camera every 2-3 years. Makes me want to spit.

      Some of Canon's A series Powershots still take AA batteries. Pentax is known to make AA powered DSLRs. The latest one, Pentax K-r came with Li-ion battery, but you can buy a special adapter to use AA.

    • We're seeing this with point and shoot cameras now. As recently as 2-3 years ago models that ran on AA batteries existed and some of them had decent battery life (a couple of hundred shots with flash). Now every new camera model is tied to a different proprietary lithium battery. This is for the good of the consumer of course, not so the camera manufacturer can gouge on batteries and make it more cost effective for the customer to replace the camera every 2-3 years. Makes me want to spit.

      I bought a Samsung

    • I'm in this very situation with my Logitech Dinovo Edge bluetooth keyboard for mac, which I like pretty darn well. After two years, the battery charge only lasts a couple hours. The battery is proprietary and sealed deep inside under layers of plastic and adhesive. The keyboard is still under warranty, but they refuse to service it. I can mail it back for a full refund, and they admitted to me that they will just trash it when it arrives, because they stopped making the mac edition. Even though the windows

  • by MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) <myfirstnameispaul@gmail.com> on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @07:17PM (#38297604) Homepage Journal
    Can't wait. [chinavasion.com]
  • Aww shucks (Score:5, Funny)

    by wanzeo (1800058) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @07:18PM (#38297622)

    I just built a kernel specifically without the bluetooth modules in an attempt to save power on my laptop. Damn you progress.

  • doubt it (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    what kind of batteries will not self discharge in less than 10 years even without a load ?....

  • A better idea. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cosgrach (1737088) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @07:23PM (#38297696)

    Why not put wires on the key board (perhaps even a USB connection), and the battery is not even needed. Wow.

    • You do realize there are many times a wireless connection may be preferred, right?

      • by Cosgrach (1737088)

        Indeed I do. I think that it would be great to have fewer wires lurking about and having the perceived simplicity of wireless. Over the years, I have tried several wireless keyboards, from various manufacturers. Not one has ever made the cut. Finally, in great despair I went back to wired keyboards.

        But in the end, while a wireless connection may be *preferred*, I suspect that it almost never required.

        • I have a Logitech MK320. It makes the cut fine for me as a programmer. Cheap too.

          I went wireless because I was forever snagging cables on something, like my foot, and sending things flying onto the floor. Also easy to move the keyboard out of the way to prevent stray cats from typing on it in my absence.

        • by aztektum (170569)

          So they haven't fit a need for you, so wth, let's stop using wireless keyboards.

          I see the mind-think agrees. Power to the majority I guess.

    • by syousef (465911)

      Why not put wires on the key board (perhaps even a USB connection), and the battery is not even needed. Wow.

      Added bonus - the kids and wife are less likely to walk away with it and misplace it. I don't know how much of my life I've wasted looking for remote controls.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by viperidaenz (2515578)
        The two year old running around my house is the reason I now have a wireless mouse and keyboard. Just because there is a cable attached, doesn't mean a child won't try walking away with it.
  • The standard dry cell, based on manganese dioxide electrolyte, zinc as cathode and carbon as anode if I remember my high school physics right, does not last that even if it is not used!
  • by skids (119237) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @07:33PM (#38297812) Homepage

    Just as long as you don't leave the capslock LED on.

    • by ELCouz (1338259)
      Why not? It could recharge itself with the light of the caps lock LED ... RIGHT?????
  • power use... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wierd_w (1375923) on Wednesday December 07, 2011 @07:47PM (#38297950)

    tinfoil hat time!

    This bluetooth chip would draw a whopping .057mAh at 1.5v, or .0285mAh at 3v. (Assuming a 2500mAh AA cell type, with 10 years of power draw.)

    You can easily generate this using biologically inplanted power sources, or from a standard solar powered calculator's photocell, or even from a thin film thermocoupler.

    This would allow for ubiquitous bluetooth devices in a lot of surfaces, including things you would never consider to have need of a network stack.

    Hell, you could power this stack on an AM crystal radio!

  • by wjcofkc (964165)
    Can I have a pony too?
  • Devices for 802.15.4 (what ZigBee uses), which is 250kbit max and low power device typically use just a tiny fraction of that, are already using AAA alkaline cells for multiple years (and then the shelf life starts to impact the cells). And the open source operating system TinyOS [tinyos.net] has made some interesting advancements with power management for its 802.15.4 based wireless stack. And the other front runner for open source wireless stacks is Contiki [contiki-os.org], with a rather nice mini IPv6 stack that is also capable of b

  • I have never seen a AA battery that wasn't sucked dead in a few years just from the internal resistance of the battery itself. I suppose they're are referring to lithium batteries.
     

  • by aXis100 (690904)

    Great. But how about they release a chipset that doesnt cost the earth in licensing fees, so that we can finally buy Bluetooth devices for less than $100.

    I swear every time I look at mice and keyboards, proprietary 2.4GHz gear can be as low as $20 and you can get something very good for $50 or $60, but anything with Bluetooth is instantly $100 plus. It's the biggest barrier to adoption that I know.

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