Some smartwatches, such as the Pebble, can last for nearly a week without requiring a charge. But wrist-worn gadgets of the future could survive even longer. New Bluetooth advancements and technology from Broadcom promise to improve the wearable tech experience by extending battery life and maintaining a stronger connection with your smartphone.
Broadcom’s newly announced BCM20736 system-on-a-chip features a design that’s both energy efficient and small enough to conserve space inside wearable gadgets such as smartwatches. The SoC combines Bluetooth, an ARM processor and wireless charging into one 6.5 x 6.5mm entity, meaning you may not have to use a proprietary charger for your next smart wristlet. Broadcom claims that this tiny form factor and “highly integrated design” will extend battery life for future wearables, but hasn’t given a specific estimate. The company is currently sampling the chip with evaluation boards.
At the same time, the Bluetooth Special Interest Group has unveiled some significant advancements that will keep your smartwatch tied even closer to your smartphone. The new Bluetooth 4.1 wireless standard will enable devices to remember a severed connection for longer periods of time. That means the watch would automatically pair with your mobile device when it's within range again, eliminating the hassle of having to whip out your smartphone to reconnect manually. Bluetooth 4.1 is set to roll out as an over-the-air update, which means you don’t need to purchase a new device to see the benefits.
These enhancements serve to answer some of the minor qualms users experience with today’s smartwatches. Some critics have reported that Samsung’s Galaxy Gear watch can only last for about one day during mixed use, although the company recently issued an update to improve battery life. As the smartwatch transitions from a niche market into the mainstream, these types of improvements could give wearables a larger appeal.