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Mozilla shutters its connected devices division

Mozilla will close its gadgets division, laying off some 50 employees working on products for connected devices (like smart TVs, for example) in the process. While the company wouldn’t comment on the specific number of employees affected, it offered the following statement:

“IoT is clearly an emerging technology space, but it’s still early. We have shifted our internal approach to the IoT opportunity to step back from a focus on launching and scaling commercial products to one focused on research and advanced development, dissolving our Connected Devices initiative and incorporating our IoT explorations into an increased focus on Emerging Technologies.

This is much like our approach to Quantum which emerged from Servo/Rust. We continue to grow our headcount and investment across all of Mozilla, including investments in new areas like IoT, VR, AR and Decentralized Web.”

It sounds like the company is doing what it can to make sure employees land as gently as possible. Mozilla said it’s working to transfer affected workers to other positions internally and that if one isn’t available, it will provide “severance, extended benefits and outplacement services.”

“Although we believe it is the right strategic decision for Mozilla, we recognize that it will impact people’s lives and are are committed to supporting their well-being. People are the reason why we can get anything done — this isn’t lost on us — and we did not make this decision lightly.”

As CNET reports, the firm doesn’t appear to be struggling financially. Recent tax returns show that through partnerships with Yahoo, Yandex and Baidu the company made $421 million.

Via: CNET (1)

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Lithium-ion batteries have massively improved in the last half-decade, but there are still issues. The biggest, especially for EVs, is that charging takes too long to make them as useful as regular cars for highway driving. Researchers from the University of Warwick (WMG) have discovered that we may not need to be so patient, though. They developed a new type of sensor that measures internal battery temperatures and discovered that we can probably recharge them up to five times quicker without overheating problems.

Overcharging a lithium-ion battery anode can lead to lithium buildup, which can break through a battery's separator, create a short-circuit and cause catastrophic failure. That can cause the electrolyte to emit gases and literally blow up the battery, so manufacturers impose strict charging power limits to prevent it.

Those limits are based on hard-to-measure internal temperatures, however, which is where the WMG probe comes in. It's a fiber optic sensor, protected by a chemical layer that can be directly inserted into a lithium-ion cell to give highly precise thermal measurements without affecting its performance.

The team tested the sensor on standard 18650 li-ion cells, used in Tesla's Model S and X, among other EVs. They discovered that they can be charged five times faster than previously thought without damage. Such speeds would reduce battery life, but if used judiciously, the impact would be minimized, said lead researcher Dr. Tazdin Amietszajew.

Faster charging as always comes at the expense of overall battery life but many consumers would welcome the ability to charge a vehicle battery quickly when short journey times are required and then to switch to standard charge periods at other times.

There's still some work to do. While the research showed the li-ion cells can support higher temperatures, EVs and charging systems would have to have "precisely tuned profiles/limits" to prevent problems. It's also not clear how battery makers would install the sensors in the cells.

Nevertheless, it shows a lot of promise for much faster charging speeds in the near future. Even if battery capacities stayed the same, charging in 5 minutes instead of 25 could flip a lot of drivers over to the green side.

Via: Clean Technica

Source: University of Warwick