Just when you thought that technology was stabilizing of the desktop front, along comes an idea whose time may be just right. There are two factors pushing this concept, the first being the wide use of smartphones, and the second is the increasing use of computers as the primary device in your home theater, rapidly displacing cable TV boxes and DVD players.
The new technology is in fact a shift in the USB sector, as the standards body behind that sector is launching media Agnostic USB (MA-USB). It uses the USB protocol, which governs how devices connect and transfer data, but runs it atop a range of wireless communication technologies and radio frequencies.
This is an upgraded approach from a 2007 wireless version that used ultra wideband only — and that technology never caught on widely. In contrast, this broader wireless approach should help the new version.
It’s designed to connect things like external hard drives, phones, tablets, cameras, and PCs. As long as a device supports Wi-Fi, MA-USB should work as long as the operating system is updated with a driver. That means that although your phone doesn’t support it today, it could in the future with a software update, since no new hardware is required.
Don’t expect to throw away all your Universal Serial Bus cables, though. The standards group is working on a USB power delivery technology that could let people charge their phones and tablets faster and possibly even get rid of laptop power cables, too.
And the USB-IF is working to sweep away USB cable confusion with a single cable that will work for mobile and larger devices. You’ll be able to plug it into the jack either side up, unlike current USB cables, and will be reversible end-to-end, too, so you don’t need to worry about matching ports at both sides.