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Netflix ponders offline playback

Remember when Netflix said it wouldn’t deliver an offline playback option because its users are never far away from a reliable internet connection? Turns out that might not be true anymore. In an interview with CNBC, Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos conceded that as the streaming giant continues its expansion into new (developing) markets, it needs to adapt its service to better serve customers who don’t always have the appropriate internet access to enjoy its content.

Speaking about the possible new feature ahead of the premiere of Netflix’s new royal-themed show, The Crown, Sarandos said the company is “looking at it now, so we’ll see when.” Back in April, Netflix chief Reed Hastings had suggested the company was warming to the idea of a download option but Sarandos’ comments suggest offline playback has now become a bigger part of its expansion strategy.

“Now as we’ve launched in more territories … They all have different levels of broadband speeds and Wi-Fi access. So in those countries they have adapted their behaviors to be much more of a downloading culture. So in those emerging territories it starts to become a little more interesting. We still think for the developed world our thesis has been true but I think as we get into more and more (of the) undeveloped world and developing countries that we want to find alternatives for people to use Netflix easily.”

Netflix now operates in almost 200 countries, which includes markets where users are attuned to syncing content to their device whenever they are near a reliable internet connection. YouTube, for example, now lets Indian users download videos to their phone. Subscribers in countries like the US typically don’t have that problem — thanks to fast cable, WiFi and mobile networks — which suggests that if the feature is finally realized, users in the US and other developed markets could be the last to get it.

Source: CNBC

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Existing EV batteries could be recharged five times faster

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

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