USB charge points will soon be everywhere, but will your mobile battery last that long?

From the ubiquitous i-devices to modest budget cellular phone handset, most mobile devices today charge from a simple USB cable plugged into mains electricity or a computer. USB ports are small, durable and convenient to use, having achieved near ‘universal’ status throughout the world.  This year, total sales of consumer USB products reached 10 billion , with 3 billion now shipped every year. Mobile phones, tablets, cameras and speakers can be easily plugged into cars, hotel room sockets, aircraft passenger seats – even new buildings now come with USB sockets as a standard electrical fitting.

Currently, the USB standard provides up to 10W of Direct Current (DC) power, which is enough for the current generation of smart tablets, but in 2014 a new standard of USB Power Delivery will be introduced which will be capable of delivering 100W of power and able to supply equipment such as computers, monitors, LED office lighting and printers – further increasing the breadth of application of the technology.

Of course, like their COM port predecessors, USB cables carry both power and data. But USB progressed a step further, enabling communication between smart devices that can prioritise activities, for example to decide whether to accept charge or provide power, and enable the host to detect the nature of the device with “plug and play”. This has made USB ubiquitous in the home, the office or on the move, so why not extend its use into more places?

If you think the popularity of USB is confined to consumers, think again. The European Union (EU) has been calling for a universal mobile phone charger for years, to cut down on electronic waste and put an end to “cable chaos”, and chose the USB interface as the region’s official standard in 2010. Last month, the European Parliament committee responsible for consumer protection built on this by voting through a resolution that will create a law requiring all companies to make the same type of charger.

But while USB keeps pace with the technology it helps to power and connect, the availability of mobile power remains a consumer bugbear. As mobile devices get more capable, and we do more with them, their large graphic displays and processing power puts more strain on the batteries that power them. Despite significant advances in Lithium Ion (LiOn) battery technology, they simply have not kept pace with the power demands of smart phones and devices and battery life is insufficient for many of us:  a study of mobile users in the UK conducted by Intelligent Energy showed that more than 70 percent find themselves with a dead or nearly-dead battery on their mobile device at least once per week.

Personal energy for USB devices off the conventional power grid

Personal energy for USB devices off the conventional power grid

Having made the irrevocable shift to mobile living, the capability to power the devices that enable this lifestyle on- the-go must improve, and solutions that go beyond the capabilities of today’s batteries alone must be sought. More commonly associated with electric vehicles, hydrogen fuel cell technology has now been condensed to the size where they offer a bountiful portable energy source that is ideally placed to address the challenges of extended operating time and energy security, regardless of location.

This cutting edge technology came to fruition with the launch of Upp, a personal energy device, based on Intelligent Energy’s proprietary fuel cell technology, that charges portable electronic devices, such as smartphones, feature, eReaders, tablets, portable gaming consoles and well as digital cameras by USB wherever power is needed – from going off-grid for work or play, to emerging economies where the power grid is unreliable or non-existent – not to mention when the train home is delayed and your mobile runs flat!

With billions of USB devices used by consumers worldwide, Upp delivers one week of instant power  to the most demanding, power-hungry smartphones, charging as fast as the mains; then swap out the replaceable fuel cartridge and you’re ready to go again for another week!  Upp is your own personal energy, providing freedom to operate and explore beyond the constraints of established energy supply and freeing you from the tyranny of flat batteries!

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