Whatever NASA does is awesome, but when the company works on increasing the battery life of our smartwatches, then it's even more awesome.
When that invention could mean 1,000 times less power usage on the watch, then it's absolutely out of this world. Wareable (opens in new tab)reports that NASA managed to develop a Wi-Fi chip that can not only use 1,000 times less power, but also triples Wi-Fi speeds.
Instead of generating its own signal which it sends to the router, which is how “traditional” Wi-Fi chips work, the new Wi-Fi chip reflects a constant signal. Data is imprinted on the signal when it's reflected, so the main bulk of hard work is taken care of by a specialised router. In practice this means more speed and less power consumption.
"The idea is if the wearable device only needs to reflect the Wi-Fi signal from a router or cell tower, instead of generate it, the power consumption can go way down (and the battery life can go way up)," said NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory researcher, Adrian Tang.
At around 2.5 metres (8 feet), the team managed to get a data transfer speed of around 330 megabits per second, roughly three times the rate of typical Wi-Fi, and managed to use roughly 1,000 times less power than a standard chip.
There is also a downside – the router will draw more power in the process, but researchers are working on a fix for that problem as well.
This could mean great news for Apple, whose Watch currently has a battery life of some 18 hours on a charge.