LAS VEGAS--What happens when you put a couple of SpaceX engineers together with some old-school batteries? You get a new-school approach to battery power. Tetherboard calls the Tethercell "the world's first app-enabled smart battery." Wait, don't fall asleep, this is actually pretty cool.
A Tethercell battery is the size of a regular AA battery, but it holds an AAA battery inside its little case. It also holds a Bluetooth chip inside the case. Think of it as a battery turducken. This means you can use your smartphone to control the battery. Oh the power. You can turn off little Billy's toy guitar when you want to take a nap. You can disable your spouse's remote control when you can't stand another second of mindless channel-flipping. You can even set hours when a device can be used.
Basically, Tetherboard is dragging old devices kicking and screaming into a new age of smartphone control. Take that, Teddy Ruxpin. This could also be a life-saver for parents who unwisely bought their kids Furbies. On a more practical front, the Tethercell could eventually be used to warn you when a battery is about to run out of juice, saving you from your smoke alarm's obnoxious low-battery wails at 4 in the morning.
When you change out a AA battery for a AAA battery, you will be sacrificing some capacity. Using the Tethercell in a device with multiple batteries helps to minimize this impact to battery life.
Tetherboard showed off a working prototype of the Tethercell at CES 2013. The company is currently talking with investors and tweaking the Tethercells to go into production. Pre-orders should be starting within a few days.
Right now, it costs around $20 for aTethercell battery, but with economies of scale kicking in, Tetherboard hopes to get that under $10. Trust me, it will be worth it just to get that Furby to shut up.