The next generation of USB 3.0 connectors will feature a design as thin as today's Micro USB standard, but they will also be reversible, putting an end to years of frustration for consumers.
The new specification is currently under development and will be called USB Type-C, according to the USB 3.0 Promoter Group. In addition to an orientation-neutral design, the Type-C will feature USB 3.0 speeds – around 640MBps – with the addition of scalable charging, meaning devices with larger batteries can be charged more quickly.
The issue of high-speed data transfers to portable devices has been a divisive one, with Apple creating its own proprietary high-speed Lightning connector for its iPhone and iPad devices, leaving the rest of the industry languishing on USB 2.0-speed Micro USB connectors. While most of the world's biggest phone makers have voluntarily agreed to use Micro USB as the industry standard charger, Apple's Lightning connector highlights the lack of higher-speed transfers for other mobile products.
The Promoter Group is comprised of HP, Intel, Microsoft, Renesas Electronics and Texas Instruments. Intel's platform engineering group vice president Alex Peleg explained that the new format would allow for thinner designs on post-PC devices such as tablets. "Intel is excited to see the development of the new thin Type-C connector as it will enable an entirely new super-thin class of devices from phones to tablets, to two-in-ones, to laptops to desktops and a multitude of other more specific usage devices," he said.
"This new industry standards-based thin connector delivering data, power and video is the only connector one will need across all devices."
As well as the new Type-C specification, designs for adapters are also being worked on to ensure consumers' existing cables are not immediately rendered obsolete.
The new specification is expected to be put to the tech industry for review in the first quarter of 2014, while the final specification should arrive by the middle of the year.
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