Friday, July 13, 2007

Smart batteries?

My last post got me thinking. In the past I have labelled battery cells. I put them in little sleaves and write out what their stated capacity is, when they were bought, their price, the actual capacity, and the number of charges. I'm tempted to go look at one and see what all I put down. I think I may include much more.

I only buy metal hydride batteries. I have a special charger for them. You can see it here:

This charger is by far the best currently on the market that I know of. I bought mine two or three years ago. The LCD display is horrible. And it will destroy itself if you charge alkaline or regular batteries in it. I have stupid kids about whom snuck in normal batteries into two of the slots. The batteries heated up releasing acids that drip down into the circuitry destroying the battery charger. (What can I say, kids are kids and you have got to protect yourself from them. If you don't it is nobodies fault but your own.) However, though the battery charger will breathe new life into old batteries wiping out their memories, tell you what the batteries actual capcities are, etc., it's not enough.

We need battery chargers controlled by the computer. So we can upgrade them on the fly with better intelligence. And so we can identify and monitor their lives in databases. How to automatically identify them? The best way would be to put a RFID like chip in them. Or just the circuitry to give it a serial number. No need to stop there. With technology where it is at now we might as well put a chip with some memory in. I'm thinking there must be something that can be done on an evolving basis. We start now with just the serial number.

With just a serial number and a charger controlled by a pc we could make a centralized database to hold all of the batteries lifetime information.

In the future it would be great to have the battery record it's power useage. Then we could get a much better idea how the batteries perform in differen environments. But that's another step.

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