How to solve the most important USB problem

One of the developers of the USB interface Ajay Bhatt in a recent interview with NRP told what the error was in creating the connectors and why it occurred, despite its obviousness.

Bhatt admitted that the USB connector causes inconvenience when connecting the cable due to the asymmetry of the interface. From a mathematical point of view, the chance to correctly insert the plug into the connector without looking at the contacts is only 50%. This problem is clearly illustrated by the old meme, on which the user can connect the cable only on the third attempt – it seems to be a joke, but this often happens in reality.

Bhatt claims that USB developers initially realized that the asymmetry of the connectors would negatively affect usability, but eliminating this drawback would lead to a twofold increase in the cost of the product due to additional chips and wires.

The USB port first appeared on the iMac in 1998 and has since become widespread. Apple has developed the Lightning interface, devoid of this drawback. In 2014, the USB Implementers Forum adopted Apple’s idea and introduced USB Type-C technology with a balanced connector. Nevertheless, even cables with Type-C have old-style plugs – they are connected to a power source or to a computer connector.

The USB Implementers Forum has never proposed an official solution to the symmetry problem of the old USB connectors, but enthusiasts got down to business. Cables with completely symmetrical connectors on both sides are sold in stores, including those with a micro USB plug and Lightning. They cost about the same as regular cables. They can be inserted into the connector on either side, do not go wrong.


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