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BatMax: Does It Really Work?
BatMax is a wafer-thin product that promises to dramatically extend the life of rechargeable batteries, while simultaneously decreasing the amount of time it takes to recharge them. How exactly does it do this? Well, you know, nanoceramics... patented IonXR technology... blah, blah, blah. Basically, to me it sounds like a tinfoil sticker that does nothing at all but lighten your wallet a bit. Though maybe it really does work. What do I know. However, I see that the folks over at Gizmodo and Slashdot are skeptical as well.
Update: Some guy tested whether battery extenders really work, and found that they did extend the life of batteries by about 10-15%. So maybe there is something to this nanoceramics thing.
Categories: Technology
Posted by Alex on Fri Feb 04, 2005
Comments (33)
More from the Hoax Museum Archives:
The way it works is by using 'vibrations'. Haven't I heard that one somewhere before? BatMax's explanation of how it works contains the sentence:

"The vibration wavelength released from BatMax is considered to be within almost the same range with the oscillation frequency of electrons inside the battery."

I like that: 'considered to be within almost the same range . . .'

So it isn't within the same range then; so it can't work, then.
Posted by Lord Lucan  on  Fri Feb 04, 2005  at  05:56 AM
The theory behind this is quite obviously a bunch of nonsensical technobabble that is written to confuse readers rather than explain anything. This doesn't sound like it should work at all. For it to have any effect on the battery, you'd need to put something inside it - unless your battery works differently at different temperatures, which I suppose could be an issue.

I'd be much more impressed with the other test if, instead of a cell phone, he had set up a pair of multimeters and drained the battery through a simple resistor load, recording how long it lasted. Much easier to control your experiment that way.
Posted by Matt  on  Fri Feb 04, 2005  at  09:47 AM
Matt is right. The test would have been much more valid, or I should say, the test would have been valid, had they done it with controlled conditions. A resistive load and a volt meter are the only way to do it. I think the test they did was more a demonstration of the placebo effect. Sidarth Raja needs to take a few science classes.

The instructions for installation clearly say that it should not be placed over the terminals. How the hell could it have ANY effect? I guess it will make the BatMax company lots and lots of money. I'll bet one of their tools will be posting on here later to say "how can you be so closed minded? You probably think the earth is still flat! It really works!" It'll be in ALL CAPS, too, 'cause that's how jack asses bray.
Posted by JoeSixpack  on  Fri Feb 04, 2005  at  11:28 AM
But they've got an animation that shows the battery level on a BatMax equipped battery dropping slower than one without. I think that more than proves their point. How can you be such NARROW MINDED ASSHOLES?

Posted by Charybdis  in  Hell  on  Fri Feb 04, 2005  at  11:43 AM
I'd like to find out more about "nanoceramics". Sounds like a neat (read: made up) technology. hmmm
Posted by Silentz  in  general  on  Fri Feb 04, 2005  at  11:54 AM
Charybdis, now you're just acting scylla
Posted by JoeSixpack  on  Fri Feb 04, 2005  at  12:27 PM
How can the placebo affect apply to an inanimate object? Clearly there was some actual difference - but it's impossible to tell what, since he didn't control his variables very well. He didn't state how often these phones were used beforehand, for one thing - is it possible that the very first use gives you 10% more time than second and subsequent uses? Despite using a "dummy SIM card" it may have been varying by signal strength, and if the tests were done in parallel there might have been a signal surge between the first and second tests. He should at least have repeated the tests over many days, randomly varying whether to use the plain or BatMax-equipped phone first on each day, and then looked at the average.
Posted by Joe Mason  on  Fri Feb 04, 2005  at  03:08 PM
The placebo affect applied to the reviewer, not the device itself. Sidarth Raja expected an increase and found it. He should have done a double blind study where he compared the lives of two separate batteries, one with the product and one without. He should not have been aware which was which until after the data had been processed. Then he should have repeated this experiment many, many times and determined if there was a meaninful statistical variance. And he should have used the proper equipment to measure and drain the devices equally.

In other words, all he did was to make most people think that the product actually works as advertised and the few people who measure this sort of thing for a living beat their heads on the sidewalk until they bleed.

I also don't think the question is "Does this work?", rather I think the question is "Is this a scam or a hoax?"
Posted by Charybdis  in  Hell  on  Fri Feb 04, 2005  at  04:36 PM
Joe Mason said "How can the placebo affect apply to an inanimate object?"

Actually, the proper term is "Confirmation Bias", but it's the same general principle.
Posted by JoeSixpack  on  Fri Feb 04, 2005  at  04:57 PM
Does this have anything to do with the low frequency in which this very website vibrates ?
Posted by Lothar Ignatius  on  Fri Feb 04, 2005  at  05:29 PM
I always try to use my cell phone upside down so the batteries don't have to work so hard against gravity! Now, once I convince you of that amazing bit of science than I can sell you an old pair of "gravity boots" and a suspension rod as cell phone battery extender!!
Posted by Floormaster Squeeze  on  Fri Feb 04, 2005  at  06:06 PM
James Randi has some . . . colorful things to say on the subject in this week's rant at

Points out that this is nothing new. A few years back there were stickers to protect your head from Evil Cell Phone Radiation, and $300 each stickers to put on the bottom of your gas tank to improve your gas mileage and reduce emissions.

He refrains from pointing out the similiarity to the stickers grade school kids put on each others' backs saying "KICK ME."
Posted by Terry Austin  in  California  on  Fri Feb 04, 2005  at  07:27 PM
You should also remember that rechargable batteries have a hysteresis. Depending upon how old the batteries are, the recent dischareges, the length of the charge, etc. A reviewer would have to ensure that the batteries had similar histories.

Also, there is some natural variation amongst batteries, you can't judge based on 1 test of 2 batteries. Trust me, I would know, I work at a startup battery company and there's a running joke that decisions here are often based on only one test.
Posted by brian  on  Fri Feb 04, 2005  at  07:48 PM
Calm down, Houdini. I think the comment was made in reference to the "snake flossing" guy rather than you.
Posted by Laura  on  Sat Feb 05, 2005  at  07:35 AM
.. buggered if I know why I wrote that comment here!
Posted by Laura  on  Sat Feb 05, 2005  at  07:50 AM
umm... relevance
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Sat Feb 05, 2005  at  03:29 PM
To recharge a battery you must put electrons into the battery, how does this product perform that small function? To extend battery life either you must take out fewer electrons or take out a larger percentage of the electrons in the battery. Again, how does this product do this? Vibating at almost the frequency of an electron (which orbit?)does what exactly?
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Sat Feb 05, 2005  at  04:44 PM
Hey! Random Guy (TM) on Shashdot says that it works, so it must! Come ON Museum of Hoaxes. Been drinking too much lately??
Posted by Drunk Stepdad  on  Sat Feb 05, 2005  at  05:43 PM
Maybe that guy has been licking too many 9-volts batteries. That is where the vibration is coming from.
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Sun Feb 06, 2005  at  08:11 AM
This reminds me of a product currently being touted in aquarium publications. If I understand the publicity, the miracle invention is a tube-shaped magnet. You set it up so the aquarium water runs through the magnet and somehow or other it ionizes the water or does something to its atoms or electrons or something so that it stays amazingly clean and fresh forever. The gadget has no moving parts and supposedly works equally well in fresh or salt water.
This strikes me as just plain snake oil, but if any of you more technically proficient people know some way this thing could actually do something, please let me know.
Posted by Big Gary C  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Mon Feb 07, 2005  at  08:21 PM
Big Gary C said:

"This reminds me of a product currently being touted in aquarium publications. If I understand the publicity, the miracle invention is a tube-shaped magnet. You set it up so the aquarium water runs through the magnet and somehow or other it ionizes the water or does something to its atoms or electrons or something so that it stays amazingly clean and fresh forever. The gadget has no moving parts and supposedly works equally well in fresh or salt water."

Isn't it amazing how magnets always seem to do only the GOOD things that people would want them to do in a specific application and NONE of the BAD things?

Isn't it also amazing that NO mainstream scientists find or endorse these supposed "effects" of magnets but somehow people attempting to get the public to buy them ALWAYS find and endorse them?

Why, it's almost as if the people selling these things are FRAUDS or something!
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Mon Feb 07, 2005  at  10:47 PM
re: Aquarium magnets

Probably made by the same folks that make the tubular magnet for your home water supply which magnetically removes impurities from your drinking water.

I note that even if it did do this, there's no way for the magnet to Get Rid Of the impurities, so they must just accumulate in your pipe near the magnet, like cholesterol in your arteries.
Posted by cvirtue  on  Tue Feb 08, 2005  at  10:19 AM
Well, I'm skeptical too, but there is a scientific way this thing could work (and I'm a computer engineer not just some crank):

If the battery life enhancer somehow flattens the V/C and I/C curves of the battery, devices will function longer and charging will proceed faster.

When a LiIon battery is charged, for the first ~hour of the charge, the voltage increases linearly and the charging current remains nearly constant at it's maximum of 1A. After this, the battery is about 70% charged, but the charging current drops off rapidly meaning that an additional 2 hours of charging is required to get the last 30% of the energy into the battery.

When a LiIon battery is discharged into a portable electronic device, a similar curve is seen, for the first 50% of the life of the battery, the voltage remains fairly constant near 3.7V, after this, it begins to drop linearly with charge use, and the battery contains circuitry which shuts off at approximately 2V which is considered the zero charge point. So, if a device says the battery is dead after it drops below some threshold value (over 2V) and batmax somehow holds the battery voltage curve flatter, keeping it's voltage above that threshold level until the battery's stored charge drops lower, then the device can use more power before reporting a dead battery.

I am not saying that these products _do_ work, I'm simply suggesting a way that without increasing the actual energy in a battery they _could_ increase the usable energy and decrease the charging time. Personally, I hope they do work, and are incorporated into battery packaging, but sadly I have no idea how an external material could achieve the results I have suggested.
Posted by Brandon  in  Chicago  on  Tue Feb 15, 2005  at  10:52 AM
Brandon, you're waisting your brain cells imagining how this might work. It's a piece of sticky tape that you stick on the outside of the battery, not touching any of the terminals. It's a fraud, BS, and pseudo-scientific nonsense designed to seperate credulous fools from their money.

"sadly I have no idea how an external material could achieve the results I have suggested"

There IS no way an external material could do what you're suggesting. Think about it.
Posted by JoeSixpack  on  Tue Feb 15, 2005  at  11:46 AM
C'mon, inductive coupling or _something_ maybe? All it would have to do is resist voltage changes... You're most likely right though *sigh*
Posted by Brandon  in  Chicago  on  Tue Feb 15, 2005  at  12:00 PM
You can find "magic" stickers or magnets to extend gas mileage, enhance stereo performance, improve wine, etc, etc, etc...
The theory of operation, if provided at all, is usually full of techno-babble and pseudo-scientific jargon that any real technologist finds meaningless or laughable.
You will also find no shortage of testimonials from "satisfied customers". We should all be aware that such testimonials prove nothing primarily because of the confirmation bias that arises because the scoffers don't buy products like that and the people who do are, well, let's just say "less than objective".
Like PT Barnum is alleged to have said: "Suckers always sell themselves".
Posted by Blondin  on  Tue Mar 08, 2005  at  12:16 PM
This process of hypothesising a mechanism to explain how it works when it has yet to be proven that it works at all is exactly the kind of diversion that helps scammers prosper.
Like a good conjuring act it diverts attention away from the fact that nobody has produced objective, double-blind test results showing that the thing does anything but negatively affect your bank balance.
Posted by Blondin  on  Tue Mar 08, 2005  at  12:25 PM
There's an interesting development on JREF regarding a device called the "Golden Sound Intelligent Chip". You can read the marketing spiel here:
It falls into the same category as the magic stickers discussed above. Here's Mr. Randi's take on it:
At AudioAsylum a glowing review by a poster named "Wellfed" can be seen here:
Recently Wellfed turned up on the JREF forum stating that he is prepared to take the JREF $1M challenge to prove that he can detect the difference between CDs that have been treated with a GSIC and those that have not.
This should be interesting...
Posted by Blondin  on  Tue Mar 08, 2005  at  06:00 PM

Here's a link to a review of a similar product (ripoff?) offered in Austrailia, I believe. Basically they say it doesn't work. Anyone surprised?
Posted by Charybdis  in  Hell  on  Mon Mar 21, 2005  at  10:24 AM
The explanation on BatMax web site had very good content, most of your rebutals are purely emotionally based, does anybody have concrete objectives? Also, I must acknowlege that an idependent body must test this product to insure in fact it works.
Posted by Pasha  in  USA  on  Mon Sep 12, 2005  at  01:35 PM
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