In the world of the Internet of Things, the word ‘hardware’ means something very different from how it’s used at your local home improvement store. But that semantic line has finally started to blur thanks to tool manufacturer DeWalt, which announced earlier this month that it would be adding Bluetooth connectivity to several of its power tool batteries.
The rechargeable lithium-ion cells, which are known only by their part numbers, will come in 2-Amp (DCB203BT) and 4-Amp (DCB204BT) versions. Bluetooth connectivity allows them to pair with iOS or Android mobile devices running the Tool Connect app, which unlocks a whole bunch of new features and provides a window into the batteries’ performance and diagnostic data — like current charge and temperature, which alters the efficiency of charging and discharging.
Of course, the app provides alerts when a battery’s charge gets too low, when recharging has finished, or if it starts to overheat. There are also several anti-theft features, like alerts when a battery moves out of range and the ability to remotely disable the batteries from the app. That makes it easier to keep track of tools at a work site and make sure they stay shut off at the end of the day or when not in use.
But clearly the most important feature for any tool owner is the ability to “lend” a battery (and, presumably, the attached tool) for a specific amount of time — after which the battery disables itself. So when your neighbor asks to borrow your sander for the afternoon, you can finally be sure she’ll bring it back before dinner.
DeWalt says the new Bluetooth batteries will be on store shelves by July.