Battery lifespan and the Apple expectation

January 21, 2015 //By Neil Oliver, Accutronics
Apple has applied for a patent to build a docking station to charge devices like the iPhone and iPad, which will retract the connector when the "iDevice" is being removed, to prevent damage to both the dock and the item.

The move illustrates a trend in the consumer IT environment for improved reliability and increased robustness. However, that trend has been evident in industry for decades. But it isn't necessarily a good thing for the two concepts to become intertwined.

The expectations we should have of a battery for a professional medical application, for instance, would - in a world where the battery or charger is optimised for performance - be very different to those we might have in a consumer environment.

For instance, a medical professional might see the embedded battery in an iPhone or an iPad and be impressed by the sleek, seamless design it provides. As a result, they may well expect the power source in their professional devices to also be embedded.

However, in a medical device, with a product life cycle of ten to fifteen years, an embedded battery would be impractical. Over that kind of lifespan, the battery would have to be replaced five or six times, which would be impractical and costly. In a consumer device like an iPhone, the entire product is likely to have been replaced before the battery fails.

Size requirements

Just as the aesthetics of an embedded battery might seem attractive at first glance, attempting to reduce the size requirement of a battery by embedding it might also seem like a good idea. This would remove the need for battery housing, thus reducing the space requirement.

However, this can only really be a workable option in a disposable or very short lifespan medical device. In more typical applications, where the device costs tens of thousands of pounds and lasts for more than a decade, it isn't practical for the same reason. A removable, rechargeable battery is the only workable option from a cost and reliability perspective.


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