USB looks set to power more than just your smartphone

Almost every portable electronic device now runs off a USB input, there are almost 10 billion of them in use across offices, bedrooms and airports.  But as the Economist reports, there’s a bigger change underway.Next year, the USB power delivery standard will be increased from 10 watts to 100 watts allowing you to charge not only your smartphone or tablet but …

By Eryk Bagshaw

Almost every portable electronic device now runs off a USB input, there are almost 10 billion of them in use across offices, bedrooms and airports.  But as the Economist reports, there’s a bigger change underway.

Next year, the USB power delivery standard will be increased from 10 watts to 100 watts allowing you to charge not only your smartphone or tablet but your entire desktop amongst a whole range of other electronic devices.

For the inventor of the USB – Ajay Bhatt, who spoke exclusively to Cybershack last week, the USB has come a long way from its beginnings.

"I’m amazed by how successful and ubiquitous it has become, it has made computers easier to use and enabled applications that we had not imagined 20 years ago" said Bhatt from Intel’s Sydney offices.

‘When the USB came out there was not a critical mass, at that point you didn’t have the flash drive and the mice and the keyboard that you see today…it’s always a chicken and an egg situation when you come out with something new so we still had to convince everybody to include this technology…that was quite a challenge for us’

Fast-forward 20 years and the USB has moved from just being a computer interface to the ubiquitous interface of smart technology around the world.

 As a power source the USB will be able to send electrical currents and data, meaning you’ll potentially be able to cut power emissions remotely or define power parameters for each device.

But the USB wasn’t always so dominant, just like the AC/DC power source battles of Edison and Tesla at the beginning of the 20th century, the USB and Ajay Bhatt have seen off their fair share of rivals.

"There were a number of companies that were pursuing the same goal, Apple had an interface called Firewire, another group of companies had an idea called access bus," said Bhatt.

Bhatt and his team of researchers took an industry wide approach and asked other companies for help,  "we wanted to see if these people would be amenable to the industry to create a standard, in the end we ended forming a team of companies that agreed with the goal and that’s how the USB came about."

Bhatt and his team asked the likes of Microsoft, Compaq and NEC to have an input into the project with an international focus, a key reason for its success says Bhatt, ‘we looked at the same technology from different angles and that’s why it is so widely used today’
 

With the USB now moving into its latest incarnation, 3.0, the increase to 100 watts looks set to revolutionise the way we power our devices. For Bhatt this might also allow him to realise more of his dreams.

"There are 6 billion people in the world, and they’re not very technically savvy, it’s a dream of mine to make all devices easy to use for those people".

Check out the exclusive interview excerpts in the video above

Tune into Cybershack this season on Channel 9 for the full interview