Power cord technology has come a long way since electronic devices went mainstream, but tangles of different cables remains a problem for office dwellers and travelers around the world. The iconic USB (Universal Serial Bus) has simplified many of these complications and plans to do so again in 2014.
The USB was invented by Ajay Bhatt, an Intel chipmaker, primarily to minimize the clutter involved with plugging accessories like keyboards and speakers into a computer. Though he never intended to invent a power cable, the USB has also become the default power input for phones, tablets and other small devices.
Next year sees the release of the new USB PD (Power Delivery), which promises to deliver up to 100 watts of power to much larger devices. A circuit equipped with USB output has the potential to power laptops, monitors and even low-voltage office lighting.
On top of this, the USB cable’s ability to carry both power and data simultaneously allows USB power networks to create electricity systems that can react to power usage. These systems are both cheaper and greener than existing power grids and could represent a large step forward in how electricity is used.