The USB Standard

We are sitting in the gate at London City Airport waiting for an early morning flight. Next to every seat in the waiting area is a bank of power outlets that look like this:

You will notice that there is one UK standard outlet and four USB outlets.

And, no matter where in the world you are from, it is likely that you have a USB cable for your phone.

I am charging my phone while I write this and I don’t have a UK power adapter on me.

That’s the power of a standard like USB which is only getting better and better over time.

I wonder if someday we won’t even have to deal with all of this:

#Blogging On The Road

Comments (Archived):

  1. Bastian K.

    Two thoughts:1. There are outlets that can handle most (all?) Connector Types. Why not integrate those in the plane ? Does not solve the root cause but the problem at hand.2. USB is great as a connector standard, however, with the USB-C socket and the multitude of standards that lie behind, the creators also brought a lot of complexity and therefore customer confusion into the game – especially if you want to do something other than charge a device. (USB 2.0,3.0,3.1,3.2,TB3,PD/PowerDelivery to name a few). However if one is only seeking to charge and doesn’t care how fast, USB universally is perfect for that.

  2. kenberger

    Arguable that half of the story implied by the photo here is the advent of smartphones replacing larger devices (laptops, etc). The USB-A sockets shown can power phones and tablets, but only the smallest of notebooks safely. So while, sure, airports’ travelers areas worldwide can use this change, unfortunately not true of most homes or rest of the airport, (which still need to power, say, vacuum cleaners).

  3. Ben Longstaff

    hope your using a USB data blocker like spyscape or similar

    1. jason wright

      A what?

      1. Ben Longstaff

        its a device to make sure all you get from the USB port is power…

        1. adam

          so nice man!!

    2. DJL

      There was a famous story from a few years ago when (white hat) hackers dropped hundreds of free USB storage devices around at a cyber security conference. (The place where everyone should know better.) Hundreds of people plugged them in and got joke-hacked.

    3. adam

      what is that?

  4. kenberger

    Qi wireless standard also making strides, interesting that top mobile rivals have largely adapted it (Pixel, Samsung, iPhone).

    1. adam

      i didnt know that

  5. Nigel Walsh

    I’ve often thought about this as you get to a hotel with a very old (wide style) iPhone connector in the alarm clock or gym kit. I actually think this is now moving to USB-C when everyone will be standardised on this.

  6. kenberger

    Caveat emptor, Fred! ;)”People are buying ‘USB condoms’ to prevent their devices from catching nasty viruses”–…

  7. jason wright

    It’s funny. The UK started out with a two pin round design in the nineteenth century, then switched to a three pin round, and finally settled on today’s three pin rectangular after WW2. Funny because the rest of Europe uses a two pin round design.

      1. jason wright

        I know what i’m thinking 🙂

        1. James Ferguson @kWIQly

          🙂 – Thought that myself once or twice over the years.

          1. jason wright

            It’s the saying bit i have to work on.

      2. Lawrence Brass

        The devil is in the details. And polarity.

  8. Amrith Kumar

    Not so fast 🙂 the map will just show USB-A, USB-C, USB-… instead.With the increase in USB-c devices and the requirement that both sides be -C for high power charging, there is bound to be a turning point soon.

  9. Michael B. Aronson

    Ah the Uk plugs, the best trick i had was using the plug for the teapots for my early portable computers although i remember lugging step down converters also . Vividly remember some classic british responses when hotel staff used to see my setups to work at night to fit the british telephone handsets in acoustic couplers and dissasembling phone set up to use early 1200 baud modems. Funny wiring and money, wait they still have that…

    1. adam

      best compliment in hacking the phone hihiih

  10. David Clarke

    LCY is such a good airport. Biz-travel focus means fast moving even when busy. Have done sub-2 minute curb-to-gate in both directions. Also was one of the great property investments, netting a 30x return in a decade: https://www.irishexaminer.c

    1. kenberger

      that article is fascinating. They’ve stuck to focus on biz travelers (which explains the usually high ticket prices).”Mr Desmond is the sole shareholder in the airport and the sale to a US banking consortium represents a profit of €1.065bn on the venture. [in 2016]The billionaire bought the airport from [a] construction company in 1995 for just under €35 million.The profits for the sale will be mostly tax-free as Mr Desmond is a tax exile based in Gibraltar.”

      1. adam

        yes,.nice and clever authorook that

  11. William Mougayar

    Only drawback is that some USB outlets charge sooooo slow.

    1. awaldstein

      gd point.

    2. kenberger

      The issue is that the *fast charging* standards aren’t standard (yet). There is Power Delivery (PD, used in Pixels and in Mac laptops), Qualcomm QuickCharge, etc.A solution is for these outlets to be fitted with a “smart chip” that is cross-compatible.Anker is probably the leader here, has some great products out now that address this. Here’s a portable unit:…Also, phones are coming out soon which charge almost completely in 10-15 minutes– but yes, you’ll need the wall power adapter with you, at least in the short term.

  12. pointsnfigures

    check out wireless power. Eventually it could be embedded into things like walls and floors. no need for wiring.

  13. Mac

    AVC Community:What about this three year old charging on demand startup alternative in NYC? No security issues.FYI: Crowd funding ends tomorrow. Just found out about them today.

  14. JLM

    .USB connections for charging are notoriously vulnerable to hacking.In the spy racket, there have been legendary instances of using USB chargers to download data, install key catchers, and to dump malware.It is a “standard” bit of spook tech that has figured in some interesting cases. The NSA has been on this stuff for decades.Why would this surprise you?I note that others have mentioned data blockers. That’s what you need.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…