The Networked Future of Batteries

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More batteries are coming to your life -- and they're going to have to get a whole lot smarter.

The Atlantic's Alexis Madrigal in conversation with industry entrepreneurs shaping our future. See full coverage

Batteries have become a strangely integral part of our lives. Every single person with a cell phone has to constantly manage power in a way that no one did even 10 years ago. The mobile revolution has brought with it a sea change in the way that people use and think about stored electricity.

In a sense, the constant presence of batteries in our lives is the biggest change in the way we relate to energy since the ubiquitous grid power came into American lives in the first half of the 20th century. Socket electricity is an essentially limitless resource for an average person. Batteries are different. They only hold a finite amount of power. They degrade over time. And they are absolutely essential to modern communications devices.

But Ryan Wartena, CEO of Growing Energy Labs, Inc, believes that this is only the beginning. Batteries are only going to show up in more places and become more important. He's got a vision for the future of batteries, and his company wants to be the software layer that sits between your grid power and your battery power. In these two videos, he discusses the future he sees on the horizon. And make sure to check out his introductory video from earlier this month.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science website in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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