We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
78,589 News Articles

10 technologies that need to be standardised

The tech messes that drive us mad

While we love technology, we just can't stand incompatibility, whether it's bickering mobile phone technologies, messaging systems that won't talk, or incompatible file formats.

We've been dealing with some of these problems for more than a decade, and it's time for things to improve.

Here are ten technologies that cry out for standardisation - tomorrow if possible, though yesterday would be even better.

1. One world, one plug

Over the years I've used hundreds of chargers, plugs, AC/DC adaptors and power bricks, for my laptops, mobile phones, MP3 players, digital cameras, GPS units and other gadgets. No two were interchangeable. It's not merely stupid, it's a landfill nightmare.

USB-based AC adaptors are a step forward, but you still have to deal with six kinds of USB connectors.

If your camera uses a Mini-A USB charger and your smartphone is Micro-B, you're just as stranded as if they used completely unrelated chargers.

You may be able to buy a 'universal' charger that lets you plug in a laptop and other devices, but only if the vendor supplies adaptors designed for your particular gadgets. What a pain.

What the world needs now isn't love, sweet love - it's a power adaptor that works with every portable device.

Last year, most of the big handset makers agreed to standardise on Micro-USB chargers by 2012. (The most prominent exception? Apple, of course.)

For the past three years, groups like Green Plug have been lobbying consumer electronics companies to adopt a single plug standard, but so far they have little to show for their efforts.

You can add your voice to the chorus at the I Want My Green Plug site.

2. A real universal remote

Like everyone I know, I have a basket crowded with remotes (including several not-so-universal 'universal' ones) on my coffee table.

All of them do more or less the same thing, but each one is slightly different. Does every TV, DVD, DVR, set-top box, and stereo manufacturer really need to redesign the wheel?

We need one remote that controls everything and doesn't require a 45-minute video tutorial, tedious trial-and-error experimentation, memory-hogging software, constant updating, or the services of a Home A/V specialist.

That, or maybe Project Natal-like gesture recognition, so we can just wave our hands to control our A/V gear. Even better: brain implants.

That way my wife and I can fight over what to watch without having to speak to each other.

3. Virtual instruments that rock around the clock

When I'm down for a virtual gig - whether I'm due to play Rock Band on the Xbox 360 or Guitar Hero III on the PS3 - I want to be able to strap on my axe and go.

Sadly, only a handful of guitars and drum kits work across multiple rhythm-game titles on a single console system.

The good news? The situation is steadily improving, as Harmonix and Activision belatedly recognise the folly of playing battle of the band instruments.

Looking for virtual instruments that span not only the games but all the consoles? You might as well wait for the Beatles to reunite.

NEXT PAGE: A single data-file format

  1. The tech messes that drive us mad
  2. A single data-file format
  3. Region-free DVDs and Blu-ray discs


IDG UK Sites

O2 to sell exclusive red HTC One M8

IDG UK Sites

iTunes 12 release date & rumours: When is iTunes 12 coming out?

IDG UK Sites

Welcome to the upgrade cycle - you'll never leave

IDG UK Sites

Why smartphone screens are getting bigger