From the horse’s mouth
USB Implementers Forum
Press Release (PDF)
Just lately, the USB Implementers Forum have shown first pictures of their next-generation cable and connector which would have symmetrical connection abilities.
It was mooted last December as a connection solution for today’s computing needs. Here, this is about providing data and power to today’s smartphones, tablets and Ultrabooks using a very-low-profile connector the same size as either the Micro-B connector used on your Android smartphone or the Apple Lightning used on a recent-issue iDevice. The size will also appeal to increasingly-low-profile peripheral devices like portable hard disks, keyboards and mice and would also benefit monitor and smart-TV designers when it comes to connecting peripheral devices to these units so you don’t have to worry which way to plug the USB plug in.
It also underscores a reality with the USB standard where the USB cable will end up as a high-speed data transfer cable and a power-delivery cable that supplies enough power to run a notebook computer or high-capacity external hard disk by supporting the kind of scalability required for these setups.
Other advantages being shown here include an audible click for successful connection as well as being able to be plugged and unplugged 10,000 times. The former feature would help in that the user is sure the device they are connecting is firmly plugged in especially if they cannot see the socket they are plugging it in to, such as one installed at the back of a device, The latter feature would be of importance to sockets installed on mobile computing devices and accessories as well as “walk-up” connection sockets installed on the front of static equipment. Here we are thinking of smartphones being connected to a charging device regularly and frequently or USB thumbdrives being plugged in to the front of a desktop computer or printer. Both situations may start to lead to USB connections starting to become unreliable over time.
As mentioned previously, there will be cables available that will have a Type-C connection on one end and either a Type Standard-A, Type Standard-B or Type Micro-B connection on the other end. This will allow you to connect existing devices to newer devices bestowed with these connections. The articles even said that some newer devices will also be equipped with one of these connections along with a previous-standard USB connection in the near term.
Who knows what this year will bring for designers of low-profile devices where the power/data connection style will become more suited to this application.