While advances in computing power, video resolution, hardware miniaturization, etc., get a lot of attention in the press, evolutions in connectivity tend to be overlooked and evaluated only as an afterthought. But the fact is, there has been a sea change in connectivity that parallels the evolution of the technologies it enables. Users are no longer waiting for the future to arrive: It’s already here.
Connectors like the versatile, fully reversible USB-C are already widely in use. The same is true of cables like Thunderbolt 3, which offers unprecedented fast data transfer rates and built-in networking and device charging capabilities. Manufacturers are already releasing laptops, computers and tablets with USB-C ports, which underscores the demand for connectivity solutions and adapters.
This is good news for consumers, who will be able to take advantage of blazing data speeds, exceptional video output and amazingly quick networking and charging functions. From a connectivity standpoint, users will be able to do more with less. But as speeds increase and performance improves, users may experience connectivity confusion as several trends play out.
The Rise of Wireless
One of the technological breakthroughs that has had the most impact on how people work and live has been the rise of wireless. The ability to stay in touch on the go and connect via cloud platforms and private networks enables unprecedented levels of collaboration. Wireless capabilities turn laptops, tablets and smartphones into fully functional workstations, enabling field employees to work virtually anywhere.
Since wireless technologies allow users to do more with less — connecting with fewer cables — more wireless products will emerge, including multifunctional products that consolidate the features of several devices into one. These innovations are fueled by the emergence of powerful WiGig wireless connectivity, which operates in the 60GHz frequency range and can achieve data transmission rates of up to 7Gbps.
Experts predict that WiGig will eventually yield speeds of up to 25Gbps. But eventually, WiGig will become more commonplace, and that will expand the use of technologies like WiGig and hybrid docking stations that allow users to dock devices wirelessly via WiGig or via a wired USB-C cable. These new choices will require consumers to learn more about connectivity and consider the products they adopt carefully.
Proliferation of Consolidated Technologies
The future of connectivity includes consolidated technologies that allow users to perform more tasks with fewer tools. There are already products on the market that embody this principle, including USB-C type cables such as Thunderbolt 3, that deliver more power, speed, pixels and protocols than legacy USB cables.
In addition to facilitating high-speed data transfers and world-class video output, these all-purpose cables can also power up devices. Users who are adapting to consolidated technologies in the connectivity space may initially experience some confusion since they are accustomed to single-purpose technologies: a device charger, networking solutions, high-speed video cables, etc.
While some might expect cords to go away entirely in an increasingly wireless world, people still operate in connected ecosystems. Consolidated technologies that charge, dock, and connect users to various devices and peripherals can deliver the performance and productivity standards people demand today without compromising the portability of increasingly sophisticated mobile devices.
Emergence of Multifunction Products
Mobile devices that allow users to stay in touch with the office and access critical business information while on the road are a firmly established fact of modern business operations. But in an increasingly data-driven and application-focused world, the basic functions of even a high-end mobile device or laptop are no longer enough for many users.
Creative professionals and other knowledge workers who regularly access high-resolution, high-bandwidth images, video and CAD drawings require peripherals to support their graphically intensive work. The same is true of medical professionals, who increasingly need rapid access to large datasets and high-resolution images to provide optimal patient care. The emerging Internet of Things will add to the list of professionals who need rapid access to real-time data in the course of their everyday work.
And while professionals who use these tools today recognize the utility of the high-resolution screens and peripherals they rely on, they still value portability. That’s why multifunction adapter products are growing in popularity among knowledge workers and others who rely on high-resolution, high-bandwidth-capable devices to do their jobs. Multifunction adaptors enable users to connect peripherals and even charge up devices without compromising their mobility.
The Solution for Connectivity Confusion
Technology has transformed the way people communicate, access entertainment, travel and work. There are capabilities people take for granted today that would have seemed like something out of a sci-fi movie even a decade ago. And as much as new technologies have opened doors and made the seemingly impossible possible, the rapid pace of change has created a huge learning curve for many users.
This dilemma has been true as devices have evolved. As developers created smaller, more lightweight and infinitely more portable devices, it changed the nature of work itself, freeing employees from the confines of an office to enable them to work anywhere with an internet connection. But the fact that people are now capable of establishing a workstation virtually anywhere doesn’t lessen the need to connect.
In fact, collaboration is more important than ever before, and the demand for collaboration platforms has given rise to an infrastructure to support teamwork, even in business ecosystems where there is no official office space where colleagues gather to work together. Cloud-based platforms and connected ecosystems create a virtual workspace, and though there is a cord-cutting trend, connectivity will remain essential.
Modern connectivity solutions are already powering the 21st century workforce, with high-resolution, high-bandwidth cables and wireless docking products that allow users to access the data, images and networking functions they need. The good news is that as connectivity technologies evolve, they are also becoming more portable and multifunctional. That’s the solution for connectivity confusion.
Sean Taylor, Director of Product Management at StarTech.com
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