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Google Power Hardware

Google Glass Is the Future — and the Future Has Awful Battery Life 473

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the shorten-length-of-day dept.
zacharye writes "The concept of wearable tech is really buzzing right now as pundits tout smart eyewear, watches and other connected devices as the future of tech. It makes sense, of course — smartphone growth is slowing and people need something to hold on to — but the early 'Explorer' version of Google's highly anticipated Google Glass headset has major problem that could be a big barrier for widespread adoption: Awful battery life." Also, a review of the hardware. The current Glass hardware heads south in less than five hours, which doesn't seem too short relative to similarly powerful devices, but since it is meant to be worn all the time you'd think it would have a large enough battery to make it at least 8 or 10 hours.
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Google Glass Is the Future — and the Future Has Awful Battery Life

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  • by Enry (630) <enry.wayga@net> on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @01:27PM (#43601965) Journal

    This is what they were able to build. Rev 2. (probably when they get to mass producing it) will have better battery life

    • by Luthair (847766) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @01:42PM (#43602165)
      In truth this isn't even rev-1, its not even intended for consumers.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @03:24PM (#43603285)

        Right. This isn't even to the level of a product prototype. It's a prototype of a *class* of product, an entirely new thing. To use an obligatory car analogy, this isn't a Model T, or even something like an early Benz automobile, it's more along the lines of an early steam powered "road locomotive". Yeah, it's got a few rough edges.

        Google is feeling their way, trying to figure out how this technology might be applied. It has a long ways to go before mass adoption, if it even gets there. It's very interesting technology, so it's getting a lot of attention. Thus, "OMG!! Battery life SUX!!!!"

        • an entirely new thing.

          Nope.

          These things have been around in academia for ages. In the distant past, they had a PC in a backpack powering huge bulky glasses. In the marginally less distant past they had a much smaller PC powering less bulky glasses with enough grunt to do computer vision on an attached camera.

          At that point the things (glasses, camera, other sensors) were usually bodged together on a plastic hard hat since they were cheap convenient and flexible. Duct tape may have been involved. The Sony Gl

      • by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @05:34PM (#43604437) Homepage
        That's a lousy excuse to allow a company to shift a poor product. They're charging for it and besides the point for something meant to be worn all day battery life should have been at the top of the list of things to sort out. Otherwise it just shows poor planning.
    • by jeffmeden (135043) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @01:44PM (#43602187) Homepage Journal

      This is what they were able to build. Rev 2. (probably when they get to mass producing it) will have better battery life

      You have half of it right. Rev 1 has bad battery life because it was a prototype. Think outside the box about the need for better batteries, though; Rev 2 will simply plug into neural probes and power itself from your brain. What battery life problem?

    • by unrtst (777550) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @02:27PM (#43602677)

      This is what they were able to build. Rev 2. (probably when they get to mass producing it) will have better battery life

      Not only this, but the article is simply flamebait:

      But for all the hype surrounding another category of wearable devices — connected eyewear — early tests with Google Glass suggest battery performance may be absolutely awful.

      I would hardly call 5 hours of continuous use "absolutely awful". Personally, I'd put that in the "could be better" category. If I'm sitting at my computer, I'm probably going to take them off; If I'm playing frisbee or basketball etc, I'm taking them off; if I'm just sitting around the house, I'm taking them off; etc etc. I think 5 hours a day is more than I'd use them anyway... but all those times when you take them off, they could also be charging.

      The article gets much worse though:

      If the user captures longer videos and uses Glass a bit more regularly, Stevens believes the headset will only last “a couple of hours” before the battery dies.

      A device that only lasts two hours between charges is not the future of tech.

      That wasn't a test. That was what he thought would happen, and he didn't try it. I doubt that claim is accurate. The screen and communications channels are running the whole time anyway, and that's probably sucking the majority of the power. Recording while doing so probably won't make much of a difference... but I'm just postulating too. Maybe he should have actually tested it, since he has one!
      And then they follow it up with a statement, as if that was actually fact. That's rotten.

      I've looked at battery powered pico projectors over the years (never got one though), and most claimed around 2 hours life. That's *nearly* enough, but I want to be sure I'll be able to finish a movie on one. This, IMO, is similar. If it gets 2.5 hours or more, I think that's pretty good for constant recording or playing (besides, where are you storing 2.5+ hours of HD video?), and this isn't meant to replace video cameras. I don't know what they're thinking.

      A complaint about batterly life from someone that probably wouldn't wear this in public for more than 10 minutes... yeah, I don't care what he has to say. (I'm not saying I'd wear it all that much either... but I'm not going to berate the battery life of something I wouldn't use anyway)

    • by chowdahhead (1618447) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @04:28PM (#43603803)
      They're using an OMAP SOC for the explorer editions. TI stopped development and is phasing out manufacturing of mobile chips. For Google to deliver the millions of Glass devices that they anticipate, they must find another hardware solution. That's a pretty good indication that the current hardware isn't final. The 4430 is overkill anyway, and a more purpose-designed SOC should be more cost-effective and yield improved battery life.
    • Even so, it's something that is meant to be worn all day. Battery life is the first thing they should have sorted out especially when asking people to pony up $1500 for it.
    • Seriously. I'm not a huge fan of a cyborg future, but proclaiming the death of a future technology based on today's battery capacities is just silly. Once upon a time, most people only had 2400 baud access to the Internet; imagine if people had just looked at that and written off the possibility of high-bandwidth applications because they weren't feasible at the time. Just to name a couple, the Skypes and the Netflixes of the world exist because someone looked ahead and saw a time when bandwidth would be
  • i got data flashing in front of me all the time. i know the news before anyone else. i'm so cool.

  • Batteries.

    Since it's, effectively, a pair of glasses, make each of the temples or temple tips be a rechargable battery, with a good enough connector to handle connecting/disconnecting and plugging / unplugging hundreds of times.

    Design them so that it won't shut down if even one of the two power sources is present, and ship with two+, allowing people to buy additional. Power temple #L1 is low? Disconnect and plug in power temple #L2. Power temple #R1 is recharged, replace power temple #R2 that are on the

  • by Control-Z (321144) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @01:35PM (#43602083)

    You could probably have a 48-hour battery life if you wanted to wrap the sides and back of your head with batteries. Go for it.

  • ...of course battery life on these is going to be low; they're designed to attach to one side of your glasses! Even if they had the space to put more battery in, they wouldn't, because then you'd have a device that was always pulling your glasses down one side of your face, to say nothing of the extra weight on your nose and ear.

    Batteries are heavy. If you create a face-mounted computer, you're going to want to make it as light as humanly possible. This should not come as anything remotely close to a surprise or shock to geeks.

    • Following up on my own post after RT second FM--I see they're using the battery as a counterweight, so the imbalance issue is moot. The weight issue, however, remains.
    • The battery life of almost EVERYTHING is low. About the only electronics that can be charged at my leisure and not that of the device are my eReaders.

      This isn't new. I bought a portfolio case for my Newton because it offered an AA battery pack instead of having to rely on the pitiful amount of juice that the Newton's internal AAA batteries could provide.

    • by jeffmeden (135043)

      ...of course battery life on these is going to be low; they're designed to attach to one side of your glasses! Even if they had the space to put more battery in, they wouldn't, because then you'd have a device that was always pulling your glasses down one side of your face, to say nothing of the extra weight on your nose and ear.

      Batteries are heavy. If you create a face-mounted computer, you're going to want to make it as light as humanly possible. This should not come as anything remotely close to a surprise or shock to geeks.

      The current design *is* a pair of glasses, it doesn't attach to them. So, there is a bit of real estate but grow the batteries too much and you start to look ridiculous. Unless that was what you were going for...

    • by Jamu (852752)
      I would prefer a power cable. Put the battery in my pocket.
      • I would prefer a power cable. Put the battery in my pocket.

        Kinda what I was thinking.

        Has no one at Google ever used a lav mic?

  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @01:39PM (#43602141)

    Would look like stereo headphone cords. Could have an arbitrarily large battery in your pocket or purse. They sell them now for cell phones-- basically double the life.

  • Google glass has to have a powerful ARM processor and a high resolution display to implement it's specs. 2013 technology can only reduce the power consumption for that to a certain extent. And glass is supposed to be a wearable pair of glasses, so the battery mass can only be so high before it causes pain for the wearer.

    A wire trailing down from the user's neck to a battery pack elsewhere is a potential solution...but wires like that get tangled up.

    Maybe a bleeding edge higher density experimental battery

    • by Nidi62 (1525137)

      A wire trailing down from the user's neck to a battery pack elsewhere is a potential solution...but wires like that get tangled up.

      Why not a battery that hangs around your neck? If you make it flat and thin enough and hang it from a lanyard it could be worn under the shirt with comfort and would also be discreet. It could easily hold a battery twice the size of that found in a cellphone. If the battery is built into the lanyard you can have a wire take the charge from the battery up through the lanyard to the back of the neck where the glasses can plug in. Get's the weight of the head and onto a part of the body than can handle the

  • by PortHaven (242123) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @01:45PM (#43602197) Homepage

    Blink Blink Revolution...

    ***

    Blink Right Eye

    Now Left,

    Right again,

    Left twice....

    You did it!!!!

  • by mtrachtenberg (67780) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @02:08PM (#43602499) Homepage

    I wonder if some product developers have been operating on the assumption that battery life will triple in the next year or two. There have been reports suggesting that such a close-in timeframe for such substantial improvement is not impossible.

  • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @02:10PM (#43602517)

    I'm in my early 30's with better than 20/20 vision. I know that won't hold out forever, but I've never needed glasses. Why would I want to wear these?

    • by spacepimp (664856)
      These are "glasses" in the basest of terms only. If you cannot think of a reason outside of their vision and vanity associated with it that someone might wear one of these then you should hand in your geek card at the door on the way out. Your comment is about as reasonable as dismissing the idea of a bulletproof vest because you aren't cold.
  • by peter303 (12292) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @02:21PM (#43602603)
    You have a huge electro-chemical generator just millmeters from the glasses.

    People have also made mechanical power sources from footsteps or pedometer pendulums. Remember self-winding watches?
  • by cyn1c77 (928549) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @03:09PM (#43603151)

    Why is everyone so critical of this technology?

    It's new and interesting. Obviously it is going to take a few iterations to be fully functional, but why should that stop the early adopters from beta-testing the device if they want to pay for it? Other companies make us do it all the time with computers, phones, software and cars.

    Also, how much battery life is enough? The hardware is very small... would you rather have a gigantic Lithium ion battery strapped to your head? (That might help with balancing the device center-of-mass.) Or maybe a micro-nuclear reactor? Just like your phone: If you want it to last all day, don't use it all the time.

    Have we really become so elitist that we cannot appreciate novel technology unless it is completely and utterly perfect?

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