Contrary to popular belief, it’s not only the big companies that come up with the greatest innovations. While others have tried to develop their own versions of this technology, LAVA was the first to come up with Battery Modulation technology as a tool to extend battery life and prevent device overcharging. This article will explain what Battery Modulation is and how it works, outline the two versions available within LAVA’s adapters, and showcase how this technology was utilized in a unique Las Vegas bar.
Battery Modulation is a technology that automates the charging and discharging process for mobile device batteries to prevent overcharging. Overcharging refers to Lithium-ion batteries being charged at or beyond their maximum capacity (100%) while the device is still turned on. This occurs both in consumer settings, such as when mobile devices are left charging overnight, as well as in commercial settings where a mobile device is likely charging 24/7. Overcharging gradually degrades a battery’s energy holding capacity, which ultimately results in a shorter device lifespan, and in more extreme cases – as seen in commercial use cases – battery bloating. Therefore, the goal of battery modulation is to prevent overcharging and prolong the lifespan of consumer and commercial electronics.
Battery Modulation allows a mobile device to repetitively charge until the battery level reaches an upper limit, and then discharge until the battery level reaches a lower limit. This electronically mimics the process of charging a battery and then disconnecting the charging cable. The best visual representation for this process is a wave (sinusoidal) pattern, where charging is the rise and discharging is the fall of the pattern.
In standard charging, the limits are set between a cycle of 0% charge and 100% charge. Overcharging the battery leads to a plateau forming in the wave at the upper limit, leading to the reduced battery capacity. Battery Modulation restricts the likelihood, or outright prevents in the case of RBM, of that plateau forming, and also shortens the waves to hover around a mid level charge. This is proven to be a healthier and optimal charging pattern for Lithium-ion batteries, and extends the battery life. Within LAVA’s product families, there are two versions of Battery Modulation technology: Continuously Active Battery Modulation (CABM) – found on u series adapters – and Network Recovery & Battery Modulation (RBM) – found on e series adapters.
CABM technology is a plug-and-play version of Battery Modulation, with no additional required software to function. CABM is ideal for applications where battery modulation is required but the mobile device cannot have software loaded onto it (ex/ retroactive installations or upgrades, MDM locks out access, software installation too costly or
difficult etc.). As a result, LAVA’s CABM-equipped products have no way to communicate with the mobile device’s hardware, and therefore cannot determine the specific battery charge level.
CABM instead measures the current at the start of the charge cycle, and disables charging once the current slows, indicating the device is close to a full charge. At this point, charging is electronically stopped and a timer is engaged, allowing the mobile device to discharge for several hours before charging resumes and the process repeats. While this isn’t a foolproof method for modulating charging, it does act as a protection mechanism for the mobile devices. CABM technology can be found on LAVA’s specialty uSynC and uSTS adapters, as well as our home series adapter, the Charge-Check.
RBM technology is a more robust version of Battery Modulation that is supported by nearly all SimulCharge-compatible mobile devices. With RBM and the LAVA Tablet Manager (LTM) Application (additional required software) it is possible for the connected hardware to communicate with our LTM Application – and by extension the mobile device – to report the actual battery level of the mobile device at any time, and therefore enable or disable charging to the tablet based on user configurable thresholds. For example, it is possible for a customer to configure LTM Application to have the mobile device modulating between a default of 45% and 70% at all times (LAVA recommended settings), while another customer may prefer that their device modulates between 65% and 80%.
LAVA’s RBM-equipped adapters have the ability to support connections to peripherals, including USB devices, Ethernet, and PoE technology. These connections are supported regardless of whether the mobile device is in the charge or discharge cycle. In addition, the ability to communicate between mobile device and LAVA hardware ensures that the charging cycle will always occur within the specified threshold, something that CABM cannot guarantee. This guaranteed charging cycle means that mobile device batteries can be modulated precisely and fit the optimal/designed for charging characteristics of the battery. RBM technology can be found on LAVA’s eSynC and eSTS product families.
The utility of battery modulation is best exemplified with a use-case. In 2017, LAVA was contracted by the popular Tipsy Robot bar in Las Vegas to provide a solution for their digital ordering system. Customers interface with menus displayed on tabletop Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1” (SM-T580) tablets, to order drinks from the robot bartenders.
These tablets need to be powered and running 24/7, securely process payments through hardwired payment terminals, and operate over a secure Ethernet connection. To meet these requirements, LAVA provided the Tipsy Robot with eSTS-2UE adapters – they can access 2 USB peripherals, maintain a constant and stable Ethernet connection, and charge the tablets through SimulCharge technology – all simultaneously! Most importantly, these tablets can now safely operate 24/7 with no concerns of battery bloating, thanks to the eSTS adapter’s RBM technology. By taking advantage of Battery Modulation technology, they can use their tablets for years to come while maximizing the ROI of their digital menu/ordering system.
At LAVA we believe in sharing our knowledge and experience to offer insight on the technological challenges of today. By leveraging our expertise in fields such as lithium-ion batteries and accompanying technologies, we hope to inspire others to uncover innovative solutions of their own. To learn more about Battery Modulation and our other technologies visit LAVA’s website or give us a call at 416-674-5924.