Ditch the USB Cable: Using Wireless Connectors | Symmetry Blog

Jun 6, 2018
 

 

Cutting wires and ditching cables has been an important improvement for many electronics in the last decade. Going from computers to laptops, landlines to cell phones and ethernet cables to Wi-Fi, the obsession of removing the cable has always persisted. Even now, consumers go wild over wireless earbuds and wireless charging on our smartphones.

It seems like everything has gone wireless… well, almost everything.

One of the most ubiquitous ports used today is the USB cable. But why hasn’t this old port been taken out yet? It’s possible that most engineers see the USB cable as a necessity, that the amount of data transferred over through the cable could not be replicated with a wireless connection.

However, wireless connectors do exist to replace the USB but few know of this.

 

But surely the data rate of wireless can’t be very high?

 

After all, we keep wired connections because wireless cannot offer as high data rate?

That may have been the case in the past, but the truth is, today’s technology outputs USB 3.0 connection speeds.

The classic USB port is so easy and widespread, so many choose to keep the old technology. But there are reasons designers should make the switch…

 

Why add wireless connectivity?

Reliability

USB ports are subject to wear and tear from long-term use. A broken USB port - a simple fix for an engineer - could completely end the functionality of the product for a consumer. By replacing the USB port with a wireless connector, the engineer removes the chance of a USB port being physically broken from normal wear.

 

Durability

Removing the USB port adds durability to a product. Not only does the lack of an open port prevent foreign particles from entering the product, it becomes easier for the design to become waterproof. Often, the USB port is the final obstacle that keep many designs from being waterproof. A wireless connector solves this issue.

 

User-experience

Removing the need for a cable makes things easier, plain and simple. There is no need to fiddle with plugging it in or having the cable around. Connections can be made with a simple tap, allowing for a more memorable and seemless user experience. Because many designs in the market still rely on a physical USB connection, adding a wireless connector can really make a design stand out.

 

Industrial Design

With a wireless connector, connections are no long limited to the sides of the product. Wireless connectors can be placed anywhere on the board. Design placement is more flexible, allowing for a small, more efficient design.

 

But is this technology even available?

Yes, it is, and best of all, the technology seamlessly integrates with USB protocols. If an existing design uses a USB port, it can be upgraded for wireless connectivity.

 

One of the best solutions for wireless connectivity is Lattice’s SNAP.

 

Lattice SNAP wireless connector

Lattice Snap™ wireless connector delivers up to 12 Gb/s of bi-directional bandwidth. Designers are liberated from the mechanical constraints of connectors, leading to optimized industrial designs that are thinner, lighter, and free from damage caused by water, dust, mud, and humidity. Modules with SiBEAM Snap technology are compliant with international regulatory requirements.

  • High capacity - exploits the wide channels and spectrum of the 60 GHz band, offering a full duplex, 12 Gbps wireless data link
  • No firmware/drivers required - mimics a mechanical connector such that no additional software drivers are required to enable link
  • Fully integrated with regulatory compliance - modules include power regulation, xtal matching, and regulatory compliance
  • Quick time to market - module size and board stackup designed to minimize interference and crosstalk for quick and efficient product design

 

Example Applications

Elegantly Upgrade Mobile Devices

Add more storage. Add an improved camera. Add a loud speaker. Turn your mobile device into a laptop. Why not do so with the worlds most elegant upgradeable link? The connector-less device allows you to upgrade in a snap!

 

Kiosk-Based Instant Data Transfers

About to hop on a plane? Download a full HD movie in seconds via a short-range wireless connection to your tablet or phone.

 

Improved Productivity Experience with 2:1 Notebooks Based on Phones/Tablet

Imagine walking into a coffee shop lined fully with productivity setups for your phone. Your data, emails, contacts, and network connectivity is already in your phone, so the productivity setup simply needs to be a keyboard, mouse, and a display. Drop your phone down, grab a coffee, charge your phone, and get productive.

 

Wearable HD or UHD Body Cameras

Ruggedized body cameras without connectors help capture what’s going on around you all of the time.

 

Connector-less Cables

Magnetically connect high-speed cables quickly versus having to mechanically align and possibly damage a connector.

 

Conclusion

With so many things going wireless, isn’t it time we ditch the USB cable?

 

To learn more about Lattice’s SNAP products, click here.

 

 

 


 

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Why partner with Symmetry Electronics? Symmetry's technical staff is specially trained by our suppliers to provide a comprehensive level of technical support. Our in-house Applications Engineers provide free design services to help customers early in the design cycle, providing solutions to save them time, money and frustration. Contact Symmetry for more information.



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