Feb 19, 2019 - Energy & Environment

Exclusive: Qnovo's tech checks battery health

Ina Fried
In this image, a cell phone lays on a wooden table and displays a green battery symbol with a "Good" health rating.

Photo: Qnovo

Battery technology is notorious for being slow to advance, with improvements in chemistry not coming nearly as fast as in other aspects of computing. One startup's solution: Use the power of software to get more from the batteries we have.

Why it matters: Battery life is tremendously important to consumers, and ensuring battery safety is also high on the list of needs for those who make phones. Just ask Samsung, which had to recall its entire Galaxy Note 7 line after a small number of the millions of early devices ignited.

Background: Qnovo, based in Newark, California, has been working on this for nearly a decade. Its technology, used by LG, Sony and some Chinese phone makers, already allows smartphones to adaptively charge their batteries, helping improve performance and battery life.

What's new: Today, the company is announcing that its latest software can also help detect batteries that are prone to failure.

Qnovo CEO Nadim Maluf tells Axios that what seems logical now engendered quite a bit of skepticism when the company first laid out its plans.

  • "Everyone was like 'You are going to do what, to the battery — with software?" he said. "The first few years were rough."
  • Things have been picking up since 2016 when it signed Sony as its first customer.

What's next: Maluf says Qnovo sees as much or more opportunity for its battery technology inside of electric cars, where bigger batteries mean failures could be even more damaging.

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