Will there ever be a standard for waterproof USB
April 28, 2014 9:01 PM   Subscribe

More and more cell phones opting for waterproof construction (yay!), and each of them seem to be doing their own thing as far as waterproof connections. Is there any movement afoot to standardize these things as they become more widespread?

The charging connector on the new Sony Z2 is two copper contacts separated by a big magnet. My wife's Garmin and Suunto watches use similar copper pads, but holds the connector with a big hairclip. Here's a short article outlining the growing frustration.

It seems to me that this would be a pretty simple problem to solve (without needing to get into inductive messiness): 4 copper pads with the same pinout as USB. The pads should be spaced X distance apart in a line, and then on either end their would be two more undercut holes for connector hooks to grab. Manufacturers could add magnets or clips to differentiate their product without sacrificing compatibility with the standard.

Anyway, I don't have the connections (heh) or the resources to lead the charge towards a new standard. Where would I even begin?
posted by Popular Ethics to Technology (5 answers total)
The thing is that you're assuming the companies have an interest in standardizing their connections.

Suunto watches are great. They would be even greater if they could connect using the usb cable to the printer, or an external hard drive.

But suunto doesn't want that. They want to be able to sell that same cable for $30 instead.

So yeah, although it would make it cleaner and neater if usb devices had the same port...but there is no benefit for the company which makes its own proprietary cables.

Dollar dollar.
posted by hal_c_on at 5:45 AM on April 29, 2014

Right, but there is a compelling consumer interest, as you described. There has to be a way to drive that into standardization, either through customer demand or legislation. How do we recreate the conditions that standardized micro USB on phones?
posted by Popular Ethics at 6:04 AM on April 29, 2014

Well there is a standard for wireless charging and wifi/bluetooth solve the moving data problem so I can see why there isn't a push for something like this.
posted by onya at 7:16 AM on April 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Correction onya, there are multiple standards (PMA and Qi) and as such it slows down the adoption of both which probably leads people to do the weird things that Popular Ethics is seeing.
posted by mmascolino at 7:59 AM on April 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

The EU passed legislation to force all phone manufacturers to use the same charging connector; it doesn't go into effect until 2017. That doesn't quite address the edge cases (waterproof, etc), but it's a start.
posted by inigo2 at 8:54 AM on April 29, 2014

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