Our job is to guide our customers, working side by side to define a technical plan that enables them to pursue their vision. There are many inherent comprises in product design, even with the vastly capable technologies on offer in 2021. The Moxie team has learned to navigate this complex path of decisions and we want to help you further understand this process as you push to turn your Internet of Things (IoT) product idea into reality.
This article shares our experience with battery life compromises. Seemingly simple things can have a major impact on what options you have for batteries, and therefore how you’re your device can run without recharging or battery replacement. Whether your IoT idea is a fitness wearable, indoor tracking solution, vehicle monitoring system, or connected toaster you will need to make a decision about battery life and charging. How the end user interacts with the devices’ battery can make or break the user experience!
- Circuit Activity:
How much power will your device consume when it is active, and when it is asleep? At this point we don’t need to know exactly how much power your device will draw, we just need to define a rough idea of how the battery will be used. The answer may not be obvious; ask yourself these questions:
- 1) How often will my customer interact with this device? More than once/ hour? Once/ 24 hour period? Once/ week? Once/month? 2) How many of those interactions will require the device to be “active” (meaning it is measuring and transmitting data)?
- Here’s a quick guide to power consumption:
- Very Low Power: Sensors (accelerometers, temperature sensor, heart rate monitor)
- Moderate Power: Micro-controllers, LEDs, Bluetooth (check out apextrackcoach.com for an example)
- High Power: WIFI, Cellular, motors (visit tacaroblue.com for an example of a WIFI/Cellular enabled device with a mesh that connects it to other devices)
2. Battery Life:
How long does the battery need to last to create a great user experience? Battery life requirements may vary drastically for different types of IoT products. This part of the process warrants some series thinking and deliberation. Define in detail what a good user experience looks like (from the users perspective). This will help you choose a disposable or rechargeable battery.
Both battery types require the end user to interact with the product. What do you want that interaction to look like? Is waiting several hours for a battery to charge an issue? When and where would users charge the battery? With the example of APEX Pro cited above, end users are often outdoors when they need to charge the battery. This means a common charging port like USB C helps greatly for making re-charging situations adaptable. Some devices may warrant a year worth of battery life, or even longer. Moxie has developed several of these products, but it’s important to provide up front information to end users and/or technicians about battery replacement and disposal.
Most rechargeable batteries discharge, even unplugged, within a year. Defining this experience means making detailed notes about customer expectations for your device, analysis of similar products (buy one and test it yourself!), and even asking prospective customers questions.
- Here’s the a quick guide to battery life:
- 1 hour to 1 week: rechargeable battery
- 1 week to 1 year: situation dependent (could be rechargeable or disposable)
- 1 year or more: disposable
3. Device size:
Decide how large your device (and subsequently, its battery) can be while providing a great user experience. This alone could narrow down your battery options and necessitate using a particular battery style. You probably already have a decent idea about what size you product should be.
Think about how big it can be and still get the job done with an excellent user experience. Thinking about device size in terms of “How big can it be and still work for my application?” as opposed to “It needs to be as small as possible” may open a world of opportunities like cost savings, more battery life, and the ability to package more sensors.
- Wearable or hidden device: requires coin cell batteries
- Pocketable device: flat-pack, LiPo, or AAA batteries
- Handheld or larger device: Li-ion cylinders or AA batteries
The chart below provides a nice visual of what was described in detail above. The columns show battery life and the rows show power draw. It’s up to you and your team to determine your priorities. If a battery that lasts more than a year is a fundamental part of your idea, now you know that you will need to prepare to replace the battery instead of recharge it. Are you thinking about a new idea for a wearable device? If so, then a small rechargeable battery will likely be your best route.
The Moxie Process
The Moxie team is experienced in this decision making process and is here to help you answer these questions. The Moxie sales staff will work diligently to help you define parameters like battery life requirements. Once we establish a solid understanding of your project and whether or not it is a good fit for us we will plan a Mapping Meeting where you meet with the Moxie Engineering Team to further define the scope of you project.
To get started, email our sales team at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ross Wesson and Andrew Rains work with clients to ensure a fit with the Moxie offerings, and help to clients navigate the IoT process. When you email Moxie you will get a prompt response from Ross or Andrew to help you move forward in your search for a partner to bring your idea to fruition.
Click here to learn more about the moxie process!