Researchers at MIT have developed chip architecture that runs on 70 percent less voltage than a conventional processor. The savings in power consumption would have profound effects on the battery life you could expect from portable devices. They may even require only movement and body heat to power chip-enabled sensors and communication devices.
"It will extend the battery lifetime of portable devices in areas like medical electronics," said Anantha Chandrakasan, a professor of electrical engineering at MIT. "When you look at the digital processor, the fact is that we may be able to reduce the energy needed by 10 times."
Better circuit design and batteries have already led to smaller, more-mobile electronics. But changing a battery is not an option for many medical and military devices. Military researchers at Darpa, which helped fund the MIT work, are keen to increase the lifespan of these technologies or even eliminate the need to charge them. Military strategists imagine these types of low-power chips could be used in the battlefield, particularly in body and environmental sensors. Among more mundane uses, Nokia is looking at low-voltage chips for use in cellphones and computers. Intel also has a low-power-chip research unit.
Now if they could only come up with a cell phone that runs on bad breath, we'd be golden.