You’ve probably heard of or seen USB Type-C connections by now. These tiny ports continue to appear on new laptops and smartphones, from the MacBook to the Google Pixel 2 XL.
But that’s just the start. By 2020, electronics manufacturers will ship 3 billion USB Type-C-equipped devices. They’ll go beyond phones and laptops, and enter the world of home theaters, office productivity, and even medical devices.
We’ve been saying for a while that USB Type-C could become the fabled “one cable to rule them all.” But a conference hosted by USB-IF, the body that governs USB standards, gave us a glimpse of what that future really looks like:
- USB Type-C everything: It’s not just about connecting mobile devices. We tend to think about USB Type-C cables as these devices that make it easier to charge phones and some laptops. But the standard is moving into peripherals as well. GoPro cameras now use USB Type-C cables, and a few DSLR cameras use them for charging and data transfer. USB Type-C ports could soon start appearing in even more places, like medical devices.
- Ditch your HDMI cables: There’s a big push for faster data transfer over cables. That’ll be a boon to video editors, photographers, and others who have big data needs. That’s table stakes though. USB-IF is also in talks with the makers of televisions and other display systems. Instead of using HDMI cables and VGA cables to connect your computer monitors or HD flat screen televisions, you could use a USB Type-C cable.
- Faster charging: USB Type-C will enable faster charging with the Programmable Power Supply feature in the USB Power Delivery 3.0 update. This feature allows the charger to fine tune the amount of voltage and current delivered to a USB Type-C device so that it always sends the maximum amount a device allows. It will also include better heat management, so your battery won’t get too hot.
- One device may be all you need: Ultimately, USB Type-C’s data transfer speeds and flexible connectivity will combine for big changes in how we use our phones. Imagine being able to drop your phone into a dock, like the Samsung Dex, at work, at home, and anywhere a monitor and keyboard are already set up. There, you could run all your office applications from your phone. It would be a true pocket computer.
As more device makers adopt USB Type-C, others are seeing the need to jump on the bandwagon. That means the pace of adoption is only going to accelerate, with new applications popping up all the time. Soon enough, the “one cable to rule them all” could live up to its name.