Winner of the "cable of the year" award

The new USB-C cable could end the tangle of competing cords
CC BY 2.0 C. Lepisto

Scientific American recently featured an homage to the humble electronic cable, asking "Can a universal cable end the cord war for good?"

This is the best news since the International Telecommunication Union introduced a universal phone charging technology. Given a push by the threat of European Union legislation, the "micro USB" has now been widely adopted for charging portable electronic devices (what's up, Apple?).

Don't you love being able to share a charger with a friend when you forgot yours at home or unforeseen demands have dropped your battery indicator to frightening lows?

It may seem like a small thing. But estimates indicated that the universal phone charger could reduce 51,000 to 82,000 tons of waste per year and reduce emissions of the greenhouse gas CO2 by 13.6 million tons.

The USB-C promises the next revolution in battling the electronic spaghetti monster. The USB-C can replace data, video, power, and (soon) audio cables with a single cord. It's tiny head and tail have the same plug, so you never need to struggle to figure out which direction a cable runs again. And as the USB-C becomes widely adopted, it will be possible to string Apple, Android, Windows, and other products together to jump charge your device.

David Pogue reports in Scientific American that the driver for this advance is the technology: speed and size primarily. And electronics companies stand to lose a lot of money on accessories sales if one cable rules them all. Brad Saunders (of Intel), who chairs the industry's USB 3.0 Promoter Group, tells Pogue:

"Job one is making money for your company, but over time we became motivated by the fact that we could change the world from a green perspective. If we could standardize all these power supplies, we could reduce waste. We started to realize we could have a real impact."

Whether you celebrate the waste minimization, the bills left in your pocket, or the convenience, the new cable technology couldn't be more welcome.

Tags: Computing | Electronics | Waste

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