Your batteries are due for disruption

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Squeezing a fitness tracker into such a svelte package was no small feat, said John Capodilupo, Whoop's chief technology officer. It required a whole new kind of battery. The battery, built by a Ca…
By Cade Metz, The New York Times Company

ALAMEDA, Calif. — The new Whoop fitness tracker straps around the wrist a lot like any other health monitor or smartwatch. But you can also buy a sports bra or leggings equipped with this tiny device, which can be a sliver of electronics stitched into the fabric of clothes.

Squeezing a fitness tracker into such a svelte package was no small feat, said John Capodilupo, Whoop's chief technology officer. It required a whole new kind of battery. The battery, built by a California startup, Sila, provided the tiny fitness tracker with more power than older batteries while maintaining the same battery life.

While that may not sound earth-shattering, Sila's battery is part of a wave of new battery technologies that could lead to novel designs in consumer electronics and help accelerate the electrification of cars and airplanes. They may even help store electricity on the power grid, lending a hand to efforts to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

New kinds of batteries may not dazzle consumers like new apps or gadgets. But like tiny transistors, they are at the heart of technology advancement. If batteries don't improve very much, neither do the devices they power.

Companies like Enovix, QuantumScape, Solid Power and Sila have been developing these batteries for more than a decade, and some hope to move into mass production around 2025.

Sila's CEO and co-founder, Gene Berdichevsky, was an early Tesla employee who oversaw battery technology as the company built its first electric car. Introduced in 2008, the Tesla Roadster used a battery based on lithium-ion technology, the same battery technology that powers laptops, smartphones and other consumer devices.

The popularity of Tesla, coupled with the rapid growth of the consumer electronics market, sparked a new wave of battery companies. Berdichevsky left Tesla in 2008 to work on what eventually became Sila. Another entrepreneur, Jagdeep Singh, founded QuantumScape after buying…
The New York Times News Service Syndicate
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