Low voltage power over computer cables reinvents the idea of electricity for consumers

There’s a new form of utility power, and it’s taking the world by storm, from New York to Shanghai; from Cairo to Cape Town. The humble USB plug, so common for connecting and charging gadgets, is emerging as the new standard for electric power in the home and office, and on the move.

Invented over 20 years ago, the USB plug was originally designed to simplify connecting devices to computers, but hidden in its design was a stroke of genius that would change the world – it also carried power to the device you were connecting. That made it easy to do away with power adapters and proprietary plugs; if you could connect your gadget, you could charge it too.

Smartphones and tablets were the first to jump on this idea, but soon any device that could operate on low voltage, from GPS to LED lights, was happily plugged in to USB. And USB is smart power; it operates in any country; it’s digitally controlled; and the cables can carry data to and from the device at the same time.

Now USB has upped the ante, with variable voltage and two-way current; so you can feed into your micro-grid from a battery pack when you need it, and charge the battery later, when your solar panel is active, all from the same plug.

USB wall sockets come with built in intelligence, and you find them everywhere these days, even on airplanes and boats. You never need a travel adapter for your gadgets ever again! And adding to your micro-grid at home is childishly simple – just plug ‘n play.

The one thing you can’t charge from USB is your electric car, but the utilities need something to keep them in business, don’t they?

Warning: Hazardous thinking at work

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