SANDY BERGER: Universal Cell Phone Charging Cord Coming
I remember the promises of how wireless computing was going to cut the cord and create freedom from wires and clutter for all of us.
Well, Wi-Fi laptops that run on battery power, cordless telephones and cell phones have given us a certain amount of freedom. Yet, we still have to use cords, cables and plugs to charge all of our growing number of wireless devices. As we become more and more reliant on cell phones, the aggravations of charging them up seem to grow.
Right now my family has four cell phones, and I am reviewing two others. So I currently have six cell phones to charge. Each one is from a different manufacturer and each has its own proprietary charging cable with a different type of connection.
So I have to drag out six different charging cables to keep them all going. Of course, there are devices such as the CallPod and the iGo that allow you to purchase the correct type of charging tip and that can charge multiple devices at once. Yet, that is an added expense and a pain to set up.
Good news is, however, on the horizon. At a recent Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, a wide range of mobile operators and manufacturers agreed they would all use a common universal charging interface. LG, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson, AT&T, KTF, mobilkom austria, Orange, Qualcomm, Telecom Italia, Telefonica, Telenor, Telstra, T-Mobile and Vodafone all signed up for the program.
The interface that got the nod is the Micro-USB technology, which looks like a mini-USB connector. Even though projections are that this transition may take until 2012 to complete, it will begin immediately.
This is a fantastic boon for consumers. In the near future, almost all the new cell phones will use the same charging cable. The standardization will not only mean that you can use the same charger with your different phones, but you will be able to reuse the same charger when you get a new phone.
The cell phones themselves will still be a potential landfill problem, but cutting down on the number of chargers will eliminate much waste. According to the GSMA mobile consortium, currently discarded chargers alone account for upward of 51,000 tons of waste annually. So this is sure to help our environment. It is a step toward smart, environmentally responsible electronics manufacturing.
It was not easy to get this standardization in place. Some companies, such as Apple, have still not signed on to the project. Some of the work of making this happen was accomplished by a nonprofit organization called AUPS. This organization is a heavy proponent of the move toward open power solutions.
AUPS members include power supply firms, energy and waste management companies, governmental agencies, builders, cable and telephone companies and others. They are doing a fantastic job of trying to create industry power standards that are universally compatible and green-friendly.
I hope this type of standardization will eventually reach devices other than cell phones. I have a box of power adapters that I've collected from various devices.
I don't want to get rid of them because I might find a device that I want to use that needs one of these adapters. Yet each one is entirely different with a different type of connection and a different number of volts and amps.
Wouldn't it be nice if all the gadgets of a certain type or certain power consumption could use the same adapter?
Up until now, that was a pipe dream, but perhaps this small step with cell phone chargers gives hopes to that dream. It may take awhile, but when it comes, it will be a win-win situation for everyone.
Sandy Berger welcomes all of your questions and comments on today's column. Please post them on the Compu-Kiss Message Board at www.compukiss.com/happycomputing.
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