So much of our modern technology depends on batteries, and as our smartphones and gadgets become more powerful the disconnect between our imagination and reality becomes clearer.

Just do a quick Google search or browse over Twitter. Someone, somewhere will be complaining that their battery doesn’t last them even an entire day. In an office setting charger cables are considered gold – not having enough juice for the rest of the day puts you at a severe disadvantage.

Playful? Maybe. But the battery problem is so bad Tesla is pumping millions into R&D to improve the situation – its viability as a business depends on it. And Samsung and Apple are no doubt figuring out new ways to make the small amounts of juice in their batters last longer, or at least develop new and innovative ways of charging devices.

As it turns out, so is NASA. The American space organisation just showed off a new plane which runs entirely on electronic battery power. The plane was tethered, and free-flight tests are set to begin soon.

 

NASA plane

 

Such advancements carry significant ramifications for the future of the aviation industry, which depends completely on fuel – which make up a significantly large proportion of costs, (and often, losses).

Which begs the question of how battery life is going to affect the new wave of technology, especially in wearables. (What’s the point of wearing a watch if you have to charge it at work?)

There’s so much talk about the possibility of wearable tech and the internet of things that this problem often goes by the wayside. But it represents one of the largest challenges facing the new wave of tech – unless the battery problem is under control, no one will be going anywhere.

On the upside, this provides huge incentive for innovation, and not just in massive factories run by Tesla or GE. Software providers are working on how to reduce the power needed to run their programs, and new software architectures are constantly being refined. Battery constraints haven’t doomed the tech industry, but have allowed it to thrive – imagine what could happen when the next barriers are lifted?