From smartphone chargers to computer mice to fans, plug-and-use USB devices are omnipresent in our daily lives. What few know, however, is that USB devices have considerable limitations, chiefly the relatively small amounts of power most are able to process. This prevents manufacturers from developing larger, more power-intensive devices, and it limits the amount of devices that can be plugged into any one computer. That looks to be changing, however. In June 2014, prominent developer Goodway Technologies unveiled new, powerful USB docking solutions that allow higher power outputs than ever before. These will provide more variety for manufacturers of USB and other mobile devices as well as shore up on recent safety concerns.
Goodway began developing the new standard USB Power Delivery specifications in response to increased demand from tablet companies for more powerful USB chargers. While a number of tablets are able to be charged on current USBs, their charge and data transfer rates are severely limited. With the new specifications, however, tablets and even small televisions will be able to share information and charge with any number of computers. Even more excitingly for many, this connection will be two-way: If your laptop is dying but your iPad fully charged, you can set the USB charger to siphon energy from your tablet and direct it to your laptop computer. A number of manufacturers have already picked up on the design, and you can expect to see these new USB devices by December 2014.
In addition to tablet manufacturers, a number of other designers of USB devices have begun to take advantage of this new technology. First and foremost, the cities of Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts, have begun to install USB charging benches in parks. These innovative pieces of architecture will allow park-goers to enjoy devices of any size without worrying about bulky battery cases. Other exciting new offerings include a number of heavy-duty USB routers, for using as many as a dozen devices on the same computer, and high-capacity USB business cards, allowing advertisers to store and distribute promotional products with pizazz and free publicity.
While these applications appeal to a vast customer base of tablet users, the people most excited about this expanded USB capacity are digital content creators and computer programmers. With new tools like the Arduino USB Host Shield, even small-time developers with minimal resources can afford to make and test new content for both computers and mobile devices. While the full details are quite technical, the Host Shield essentially lets users connect development boards and other tools directly to traditional desk and laptops, minimizing the need to purchase special equipment just for software development purposes. Independent animators are particularly excited as previously uploading bulk sketches from mobile devices could take hours. With the high-speed uploading made possible by this latest innovation in USB technology, however, even large transfers can be finished in minutes.