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Five technologies that will change the face of IT

USB 3.0, 3DTV and other technologies

We look at five technologies that look set to become part of every day lives very soon, to find out how they'll change our lives.

This technology could be a game-changer for device connectivity. A modern desktop computer today may include jacks to accommodate ethernet, USB 2.0, FireWire 400 or 800 (IEEE 1394a or 1394b) or both, DVI or DisplayPort or both, and - on some -eSATA.

USB 3.0 could eliminate all of these except ethernet. In their place, a computer may have several USB 3.0 ports, delivering data to monitors, retrieving it from scanners, and exchanging it with hard drives. The improved speed comes at a good time, as much-faster flash memory drives are in the pipeline.

USB 3.0 is fast enough to allow uncompressed 1080p video (currently our highest-definition video format) at 60 frames per second, says Jeff Ravencraft, president and chair of the USB-IF.

That would enable a camcorder to forgo video compression hardware and patent licensing fees for MPEG-4. The user could either stream video live from a simple camcorder (with no video processing required) or store it on an internal drive for later rapid transfer; neither of these methods is feasible today without heavy compression.

Citing 3.0's versatility, some analysts see the standard as a possible complement - or even alternative - to the consumer HDMI connection found on today's Blu-ray players.

The new USB flavor could also turn computers into real charging stations. Whereas USB 2.0 can produce 100 milliamperes (mA) of trickle charge for each port, USB 3.0 ups that quantity to 150mA per device. USB 2.0 tops out at 500mA for a hub; the maximum for USB 3.0 is 900mA.

With mobile phones moving to support USB as the standard plug for charging and syncing, the increased amperage of USB 3.0 might let you do away with wall warts (AC adapters) of all kinds.

In light of the increased importance and use of USB in its 3.0 version, future desktop computers may very well have two internal hubs, with several ports easily accessible in the front to act as a charging station.

Each hub could have up to six ports and support the full amperage. Meanwhile, laptop machines could multiply USB ports for better charging and access on the road.

(Apple's Mac Mini already includes five USB 2.0 ports on its back.)

The higher speed of 3.0 will accelerate data transfers, of course, moving more than 20GB of data per minute. This will make performing backups (and maintaining offsite backups) of increasingly large collections of images, movies, and downloaded media a much easier job.

Possible new applications for the technology include on-the-fly syncs and downloads (as described in the case study above).

The USB-IF's Ravencraft notes that customers could download movies at the gas pump at of a filling station.

"With high-speed USB [2.0], you couldn't have people waiting in line at 15 minutes a crack to download a movie," Ravencraft says.

Manufacturers are poised to take advantage of USB 3.0, and analysts predict mass adoption of the standard on computers within a couple of years.

The format will be popular in mobile devices and consumer electronics, as well. Ravencraft says that manufacturers currently sell more than 2 billion devices with built-in USB each year, so there's plenty of potential for getting the new standard out fast.

NEXT PAGE: Video streaming over Wi-Fi

  1. USB 3.0, 3DTV and other technologies could change the way we live
  2. More on USB 3.0
  3. Video streaming over Wi-Fi
  4. Where 802.11ad comes in
  5. 3D TV
  6. More on 3D TV
  7. 'Augmented Reality' in mobile devices
  8. More on augmented reality
  9. HTML5


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