4 Amazing Facts About the History of USB Technology
The Universal Serial Bus, or USB as it’s more commonly known, has been around since the mid-1990s. These days, it is generally used for device connections, charging, and data communication. It is a far cry now from its origins, evolving into USB 2.0, 3.0, the Micro-USB, and the Type C.
Older versions of USB were only primarily used for the transmission of data. However, these days have seen an explosion in innovation with a diverse range of devices, from smartphones to electronic clippers charging themselves via USB.
In this article, we’re going to explore the history of the USB port and how it went from just another hole in the computer to one of the most important ways to transmit data and energy to date. Here are some interesting facts about the USB:
1. All the different types of cables were causing an e-waste problem
For a long time, many different manufacturers had many different types of proprietary ports with which to charge their devices, leading to a lot of electronic waste. Cellular phone manufacturers such as Nokia, Apple, Samsung, and Sony Ericsson all had different charging ports that only their companies produced.
As backlash to the growing e-waste problem in the digital age grew, more and more companies shifted towards a universal charger as a way to reduce the resulting waste from mass production.
For a while, this seemed to work, but we are seeing a rise in e-waste yet again with the introduction of the Type C cable and the persistence of Apple’s lightning cable.
2. USB Power Delivery Specifications were introduced to eliminate the need for customized chargers
Gone are the days of having to buy a specific charger for every specific device on the market. Manufacturers have created a single standard in the industry that can be used across all devices to reduce e-waste overall.
Currently, the USB PD standards are raising standard power levels up to 100W, increasing the variety of devices USB ports can now charge (such as the power-hungry Nintendo Switch, laptops, and portable monitors).
The new standards also allow for power to be charged both ways. It used to be that one port was always the source, and the other port was always the receiver. Now, your phone and other devices could be tasked to deliver power, not just receive it.
3. Advances in USB allow it to charge your devices as needed without the worry of overcharging
The specifications have also allowed for devices to be plugged in without the worry of overcharging. Even with a higher wattage charger, your phone will only be granted the power specifications it needs. This ensures compatibility across systems and power efficiency.
4. Fast charging introduced a new set of concerns that PPS is trying to solve
As the specifications and features of phones grow more complex and innovative, so do their power demands. As such, many manufacturers have devised many ways for phones to be charged quickly via USB. This has posed a problem, as each manner of fast charging might have different specifications needed from a USB charger.
As a solution, the USB-IF Association added Programmable Power Supply (PPS) to the USB PD 3.0 standard, which created a unified set of specifications for fast charging. The PPS standard allows a USB charging device to dynamically adjust the voltage output to fit the requirements of the receiving device.
With every step in the development of newer and better technologies, there are always new questions and new problems to be faced. USB technology is no different, but engineers and other manufacturers are also constantly looking for ways to solve these problems for better and more sustainable manufacturing processes.
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