Energizer’s massive battery/phone proves a viral hit ≠ crowdfunding success

Oof. This isn’t the sort of thing you want to see when you’re rounding the corner of your crowdfunding campaign:

There are long shots and then there’s coming up with $15,000 of your $1.2 million goal. The Indiegogo page for the Energizer Power Max P18K Pop understandably focused on the viral sensation the ridiculously beefy phone with the 18,000mAh battery spurred at Mobile World Congress this year. There are even photos of the scrum of journalists elbowing to take a shot of the thing at the event.

Understandable that its creators took that approach. Heck, the thing may have outshined all of the foldable and 5G phones that were set to take center stage at the event. We wrote about it. Lucas rightfully called it “basically a giant battery with a smartphone built into it.”

The takeaway seems clear, though. Just because everyone’s talking about a product doesn’t mean that anyone intends to buy it. If anything, the devices seemed more a comment on the state of smartphone battery life than actual enticing product.

And honestly, there’s been a shift in recent years among many smartphone manufacturers to provide power saving options and larger capacity batteries, so this has become less of a problem (though 5G’s approach could aversely impact that). Also, there are eight million power banks, and you can get them pretty cheap these days, making the P18K Pop any even sillier proposition. Not to mention all the things that can go wrong when you buy a phone based on a single feature.

Even so, the product’s creators closed the campaign out on a hopeful note, writing, “Although it didn’t reach its goal, we will work on further improvement on the P18K (design, thickness, etc.) as we do believe there is a rising interest for smartphones with incredible battery life, which can also be used as power banks.”

Certainly features from companies like Samsung and Huawei have proven that power sharing is a compelling feature. It just probably won’t come with Energizer’s name attached.

Energizer’s P18K Pop is basically a giant battery with a smartphone built into it

This is the future you asked for.

When people read smartphone reviews, one of the first things they want to know is whether the battery life is going to be sufficient for their use cases. Well, what if the battery life was the only stat that mattered?

At MWC in Barcelona, phone maker Avenir Telecom is turning heads with an Energizer-branded behemoth that packs a punch.

The P18K Pop has a truly massive 18,000 MAh battery built-in, the manufacturer says that you could play videos for two straight days without depleting the battery. By comparison, the phone in your pocket probably has a battery in the 2,500-3,500 MAh so this things would likely be able to keep you going for several days with regular usage.

Consumers haven’t always been psyched about about manufacturer’s never-ending desire to trim thickness from their phones, that’s not an issue with the P18K Pop which is 18mm thick at its thinnest point. Hilariously the thing is thick as hell but manages to not have a headphone jack.

It is abundantly unclear how big the market is for this chunkster but Paris-based Avenir Telecom says they will start shipping them to customers sometime this summer.

Spam filters and AI help figure out what animals do all day

The pond-dwelling Hydra is not a very complex little animal but it does have a complex repertoire of moves that aren’t clear until after extensive human observation. Examining these moves took a long time and scientists were never sure that they had seen all of them. Now, thanks to an algorithm used to catch spam, researchers have been able to catalog all of the Hydra’s various moves, allowing them to map those moves to the neurons firing in its weird little head.

“People have used machine learning algorithms to partly analyze how a fruit fly flies, and how a worm crawls, but this is the first systematic description of an animal’s behavior,” said Rafael Yuste, a neuroscientist at Columbia University . “Now that we can measure the entirety of Hydra’s behavior in real-time, we can see if it can learn, and if so, how its neurons respond.”

Luckily, the little Hydra was pretty predictable. From the report:

In the current study, the team went a step further by attempting to catalog Hydra’s complete set of behaviors. To do so, they applied the popular “bag of words” classification algorithm to hours of footage tracking Hydra’s every move. Just as the algorithm analyzes how often words appear in a body of text to pick out topics (and flag, for example, patterns resembling spam), it cycled through the Hydra video and identified repetitive movements.

Their algorithm recognized 10 previously described behaviors, and measured how six of those behaviors responded to varying environmental conditions. To the researchers’ surprise, Hydra’s behavior barely changed. “Whether you fed it or not, turned the light on or off, it did the same thing over and over again like an Energizer bunny,” said Yuste.

The system used to map the Hydra’s reactions can be used to map more complicated systems. The researchers essentially “reverse-engineered” the Hydra and may be able to use the technique to “maintain stability and precise control in machines, from ships to planes, navigating in highly variable conditions.”

“Reverse engineering Hydra has the potential to teach us so many things,” said Shuting Han, a graduate student at Columbia.