I don’t know of any person who works in technology who will can doubt that the USB standard was one of the most disruptive technologies to the computer world since the launch of the World Wide Web. Shortly after being launched in the late 90’s, the USB standard has made several technologies such as Parallel Ports, DB9 Serial Ports and even Floppy Disks obsolete with little effort. The newer Type-C USB port along with USB 3.1 that has started making its appearance on devices in 2015 stands to render several technologies that we use today obsolete, here are just 6 of them.
Of course, if you can think of any more that are not on this list, just place them in the comments below.
6) USB OTG Cables
One of the great features about the new Type-C USB port is that it is completely reversible and the USB port is the same size regardless on what end of the cable you are using. This means that future flash drives containing USB Type-C connections will plug into phones and tablets without the need to spend a few extra bucks on a USB OTG Adapter.
5) MicroUSB/MiniUSB/Lightning Cables
As already seen with the transition from MiniUSB to MicroUSB in Android Devices a few years ago, the new Type-C USB connector will eventually cripple the demand for MicroUSB cables. As Apple is also now including this on the new 2015 Macbook, it is also likely that it will also take over several Apple specific cables such as the Thunderbolt and Lightning cable in future iPhones and iPads.
4) Bulky and Proprietary Laptop Power Supplies
The USB 3.1 standard is not only faster then previous USB standards but also allows for the cable to carry a lot more then just data and low wattage power. The USB 3.1 standard allows for up to 20V at 5A and a whopping 100 watts. This is more then enough to power a laptop and in the case of some of the newer power sipping architectures from Intel and AMD it could even charge 2 or 3 future laptops at a time. With all this said, the likelyhood of most future consumer laptops and tablets switching to USB charging is very high and if this happens, the power bricks would be universal.
3) Power Supplies on Peripheral Devices
As mentioned above, the new USB 3.1 standard allows for up to 20v at 5A and 100 watts which is more then enough to power most peripheral devices such as printers, scanners, monitors and more from your standard desktop computer. No more need for each device on your desk to require its own power brick. At the same time, you may also be able to use your desktop to charge your laptop.
USB 3.1 is robust enough to allow for 4K video out but this does require a converter in the form of a docking station or external video card to work as these expose an HDMI/DVI/SVGA or DisplayPort for your monitor to connect to. I would not be surprised to see future external displays forgo the need for an external converter and start integrating them into the monitor itself. The single USB connection could also power the monitor at the same time.
1) Searching for Power Outlets
I am not talking about completely replacing all power outlets with Type-C ports, although technically possible, I am talking about high density external USB battery packs that can be carried around. How often do you take your laptop to a meeting, airport or coffee shop only to spend several minutes looking for a seat close enough to a wall outlet to keep your laptop charged? There are already several high capacity battery packs that will charge phones and tablets but I can foresee future versions being built to power future laptops. A sub $100 battery pack could extend your laptop battery by up to 10 hours or more.