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Death to the Trapezoid... Next USB Connector Will Be Reversible 408

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the suffer-no-more dept.
TheRealHocusLocus writes "Extreme bandwidth is nice, intelligent power management is cool... but folks should be spilling into the streets in thankful praise that the next generation miniature USB connector will fit either way. All told — just how many intricate miracle devices have been scrapped in their prime — because a tiny USB port was mangled? For millennia untold chimpanzees and people have been poking termite mounds with round sticks. I for one am glad to see round stick technology make its way into consumer electronics. Death to the trapezoid, bring back the rectangle! So... since we're on roll here... how many other tiny annoyances that lead to big fails are out there?" The new connector will be smaller too.
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Death to the Trapezoid... Next USB Connector Will Be Reversible

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  • by Chrisq (894406) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @08:51AM (#45594141)
    That's immoral
    • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @09:08AM (#45594331)
      Ruins the sanctity of cabling.
      • by Urkki (668283) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @10:56AM (#45595665)

        Ruins the sanctity of cabling.

        No, it's all natural when the cabling is born that way. If you want to see ruined sanctity, ram a current USB plug in the wrong way...

        But I say this is only the first step. Next we must eradicate male - female difference, and have just one plug-socket which will fit, work and feel good no matter how you do the coupling.

  • Small Connectors (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @08:53AM (#45594155)

    Big fails? How about small connectors? I greatly prefer regular-sized USB to micro-USB, they sit much better in the slot.

    • by X0563511 (793323)

      Not when the device you're trying to connect is smaller than said port!

    • by Megane (129182) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @10:15AM (#45595161) Homepage
      I also prefer regular-sized USB because it also fits into an Ethernet jack, so it can take you THREE times to get it right.
      • Sigh. This happened to me a week ago. Tried to hook up a USB-B connector to the back of a laserprinter blind. It fit in but wouldn't be detected by the host computer at all. The computer was running Linux Mint so I thought it was a compatibility problem (even though I just moved the printer from another computer running the exact same version of Linux Mint).

        After 20 minutes I decided to turn the printer around and noticed (for the first time) that a USB-B connector would quite easily fit snugly into an

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @11:00AM (#45595735)

      I greatly prefer regular-sized USB to micro-USB, they sit much better in the slot.

      oh, c'mon, that is SO what she said!

  • Atari would be proud (Score:5, Interesting)

    by clickclickdrone (964164) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @08:54AM (#45594167)
    USB, developed from the Atari 800's SIO technology (1978/79!) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atari_SIO [wikipedia.org]
  • I'd like to see the back of these. They pull out too easily.
  • by alexandre_ganso (1227152) <surak@surak.eti.br> on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @08:58AM (#45594213)

    Reminds me of the notebook's keyboard position, then the trackpad, then the clean designs etc etc...

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      The notebook computer's keyboard position... on the inside?

    • by swb (14022) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @09:24AM (#45594535)

      Cue the anti-Lightning connector posts.

      The proprietary nature of Lightning and its excessive control by Apple is bad, but as a functional connector it works pretty well. I can plug my phone in without being able to see anything and thusfar it has been plenty durable, too. (My Proclip car charger/holder uses a lightning/30pin cable in the base, so it gets pretty hard use without any issues).

      I think Apple would have been smart to create a cheap licensing program for it to gain wider adoption, especially for devices that aren't phones or tablets, as well as a more open spec that would have allowed for more innovative use with iPhones for third party components. Now that a USB spec is coming that eliminates the mechanical advantage of Lightning as a plug, the proprietary nature of of Lightning will be more glaring.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by sl4shd0rk (755837)

      then the trackpad, then the clean designs etc etc...

      .. then the addition of indiscernible hieroglyphics. "No mom, the thing that looks like a crooked T... next to the clover.... thing.. " That's one cue I'm glad as hell never got released into the PC space. For all of Apple's touted wisdom, they do some equally idiotic things sometimes just to "be different".

      • I have in my lenovo three indiscernible hieroglyphs: one that turns out to be the old-generation of the windows logo, one that engages the right click on the mouse (why?), and one called Alt-Gr. It seems that Microsoft took what was bad, made it worse and it is now a standard. Never mind the rest of incomprehensible bullshit I have on this keyboard, like "fn" in blue, but also the whole enter key in blue. Or keys for page back and page forth, right next to the up arrow. Or....

        Nah, I am fine with the alt key

  • by cpotoso (606303) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @08:58AM (#45594219) Journal
    Is the fact that the standard USB connection (rectangle) is not really 180 degrees symmetric (despite a shape that indicates it should be), usually takes 3+ attempts to get it in. Damn it, Jim, a spin-1/2 connector!
    • by clickclickdrone (964164) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @09:12AM (#45594383)
      I find if I go to plug in a USB connector, it's best to change your mind at the last minute and turn it over because you're *always* wrong first time.
    • by Thanshin (1188877) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @09:28AM (#45594579)

      Damn it, Jim, a spin-1/2 connector!

      USB connections are quantum entangled. At the other side of the wormhole there's a reality where you've spent your entire life getting the usb in in the first try.

      In that reality you're rich and powerful.

    • by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortex@Nos ... t-retrograde.com> on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @11:08AM (#45595875)

      Is the fact that the standard USB connection (rectangle) is not really 180 degrees symmetric (despite a shape that indicates it should be), usually takes 3+ attempts to get it in. Damn it, Jim, a spin-1/2 connector!

      Protip: The USB emblem goes "up". The logo is trademarked, and without it the cables are too frustrating to use. An interesting feat of human engineering indeed.

      Now, let us travel through time far enough into the future that we come to appreciate the greatest connector design possible:

      First, consider the connector with zero lines of symmetry, such as USB, or a polarized pronged plug. There is a 2D plane that the connector travels orthogonal to and which it must breech in order to complete a connection docking sequence. Consider this plane slicing through your connector and receptacle's contacts. Note that there is one receptacle surface for one connector pin passing through the docking plane.

      To the Future! Copy and rotate your receptor 180 degrees in place along the docking plane. Eliminate any conflicting isolation surfaces, and move the pins such that they do not interact with each the other's connection surfaces. Now you have a reversible connector with one line of symmetry in the receptacle. The connector pins can occupy both sets of receptacle contact surfaces, but need only occupy one position to complete the electrical circuits.

      Advance! Now we will perform the same step again, but with a 90 degree increment. Behold! A square connector!

      60 degrees? Hexagonal connectors! Note that just imagining it we can nearly taste the hex filled future!

      Onward, to 45 degrees, and to victory! Octagonal connections even mirror our futurist desire to slice the corners from our square UI windows, and tabs.

      Oh integration, you foul beast. Clearly to see furthest into the future we must have infinite lines of symmetry in our docking plane -- BUT HOW?! With all pins occupying all positions across the USB connector, the left side interacts with the right side. Since connector pins need only exist in one position we need only make the connector pins have zero lines of symmetry -- move all the connector pins to one side. Simultaneously we have a perfectly round receptacle -- Ah, but all intersecting isolation surfaces are removed, this leaves us with only a flat ring of contacts and several pins.

      So, now we will enter a new Dimension! We can stretch the docking plane in the 3rd dimension along the orthogonal connection axis! BEHOLD! We have discovered the most futuristic connector of all time! The Head Phone Jack!

      Now, what's old can finally be new again. Story time is over, now get off my lawn.

  • and Just after (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Chrisq (894406) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @09:00AM (#45594233)
  • They are not actually redesigning the mini USB connector (if I'm passing reading comprehension 101...), this is a redesign of the full size USB Type-C connector to become a mini type connector. They don't say if the existing mini is changing so it seems like this may not effect cell phone style connectors?
  • The spec explicitly includes video output now. I know MHL and the like have become almost de facto standards but this will finalise it. Basically you've got all the advantages of the Lightning connector in a standardised design. I liked Lightning when it came out, but score one for universality.

    • The spec explicitly includes video output now. I know MHL and the like have become almost de facto standards but this will finalise it. Basically you've got all the advantages of the Lightning connector in a standardised design. I liked Lightning when it came out, but score one for universality.

      So just save all that work and imcompatibility with Apple devices and use Lightning? Unless there are improvements in this new design over Lightning, then you are just reinventing the wheel.

      There will be patent holders on the new design as well.

      • by Sockatume (732728)

        If Apple was licencing Lightning to anybody but manufacturers of accessories for Apple products you'd be onto something. By comparison the USB-IF exists to get as many people using USB as possible without ceding administrative control.

  • by oodaloop (1229816) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @09:04AM (#45594275)
    Proof that USB cables are 4 dimensional [smbc-comics.com].

    Apologies if this appears twice. It looks like slashdot ate the first attempt.
  • Someone finally sat down and studied Yoka-yoke [wikipedia.org] design principles.

  • Now that Europe is mandating the existing micro-USB for all phones are they going to modify the mandate to include this connector or is it too late for that and Europeans will not be able to enjoy this marvelous new connector?

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      Given that it's acceptable for a manufacturer to simply sell an adaptor for the device, I don't think it's going to be an issue.

  • My minor annoyances with plugs are with all plugs that require a single form of orientation to work. I seem to find myself frequently having to twist wires to match up with the devices.

    My biggest gripe are the small AC to DC wall warts. Try as they might with different orientations of their bulbus shapes, they always take up to much room on my power strips.

    I do love the headphone jack. Simple, easy, and universal.
    • by tverbeek (457094)
      "I do love the headphone jack. Simple, easy, and universal." And as doomed as POTS and broadcast NTSC. The headphone jack is currently the constraining design factor that prevents phones and tablets from getting any thinner. I guarantee you that Apple is working on a flat (reversible) replacement for the iPhone 6 or 7 or 8; the only question (other than when) is whether it'll be an open standard that will (over a few years) be embraced by the rest of the industry, proprietary to Apple, or something halfw
      • I noticed that my old throwaway Tracfones all had 2.5mm headphones jacks, but all higher-end tablets/phones I've seen use 3.5mm jacks... I know the 3.5mm is much more universal but the 2.5mm standard is already there, with plenty of adapters for 3.5mm devices, any time someone wants to make a slightly thinner device.

    • headphone jack. hmmm. inherently shorting!

      as you insert or remove, the ground (larger band) shorts to the other contacts and for amps (and worse, psu's!) this is horrible.

      I first learned this when I was building a diy bipolar (plus and minus) psu. I need a 3 conductor connector. hey, 1/4" phones jack has 3! so I used it.

      took the box into work and it was immediately pointed out to me that for power use, it was really bad! yet I can remember audio alchemy (long gone company but they were well known once

  • Think of them as opportunities
  • by chihowa (366380) * on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @09:12AM (#45594387)

    Connectors that are (un)plugged often should either be symmetrical or clearly indexed. The original (big) USB plug was almost right (in the sense that the plug wouldn't go in the wrong way), except that it was difficult to tell which way the index should be facing. Firewire was a decent implementation of an indexed plug.

    The current micro USB plugs are ridiculous, though. It can takes three tries to plug it in and every time you get it wrong you stress the socket a little. The difference in feel between a correct and incorrect fit is very mushy with some plugs/sockets.

    While we're on the subject, a pure rectangle (a la the USB A plug) is even worse. The USB connector design over the years has been so bad that I wouldn't be too hopeful about what they come up with next.

    • by swb (14022)

      I don't know how, but when plugging a USB A plug it usually takes me more than two tries to get it in. USB B is easier because the plug orientation is more visually apparent.

      Mini-B is less troublesome than Micro-B, which is really hard to work with in low light for old farts like me with presbyopia.

  • Another way to sell us yet another cable to replace one we already have that works just fine.

    It's not easy to pug the connector in upside down, so if someone forces it in in the wrong direction and breaks it, it's not the fault of the connector.
  • But what will I do with the 600 or so micro USB cables I currently own?
  • US Patent Pending

    A Method To Allow Device Insertions In Any Orientation

    A device being any device that can be held in the hand between two fingers, too large to be grasped by two fingers yet small enough to be grasped by the whole hand, or too large to be grasped by a hand, an insertion being a process by which a device is brought close to another larger device with a receptacle and the first device placed into the receptacle to facilitate mutual operation, and orientation being the angular position of

  • ... as easily as the current microUSB connector?

  • A tweak that USB would need is to remove the requirement of having to "safely remove device". It would be much more streamlined and user-friendly if I could just chuck the device out any time.
  • What about HDMI (Score:5, Interesting)

    by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @09:41AM (#45594721)

    The WORST connectors are the trapezoidal HDMI connectors. Not only are they orientation specific, but they are often used on heavy cables that pull on the connector causing it to lose contact, and even bend the pins in the socket.

    Add in the fact that the data rate is like a zillion bytes per second and there is an encryption handshake that must go just right at the start and you have a clusterfuck.

    HDMI connectors seriously need an upgrade.

  • by ehud42 (314607) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @09:56AM (#45594897) Homepage

    Tip-{ring,ring,...}-Sleeve. Easily handles the 3 or 4 connectors needs for just about any modern digital serial connector. Need power? why not modulate the signal on top of the power carrier? Easy to connect, proven reliable (can't count how many times I've broken a mini/micro USB or worse those umpteen pin pico/nano pin connectors that are only used for power or maybe a simple serial connection)

  • by PPH (736903) on Wednesday December 04, 2013 @12:10PM (#45596775)

    Let the British design the next standard. I have yet to see anyone pick up a BS 1363 [wikipedia.org] and not figure out which way to insert it.

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