March 18, 2014 by

What are we up to anyway?

Greetings MyVolts fans, my name is Ellen and I am one of the product designers working with the MyVolts team to change the way we power and charge our devices. Following on from Ross’s post last week,  I’m going to share a bit more about our development process and give you some further insight into what we’ve been upto!

The team (Luke, Ross Gav and Ellen) busy working during a 3 day development session in Cloughjordan, Co. Tipperary.

The team (Luke, Ross Gav and Ellen) busy working during a 3 day development session in Cloughjordan, Co. Tipperary.

Working with MyVolts over the last few months has taught us a lot about power. As Ross said previously, we’ve done a lot of research and learned a great deal about voltage, current, polarity, AC and DC power and USB power. 

It’s a complicated but fascinating world, there’s a lot more to power supplies than you would think!

 

Some brainstorming sketches and ideas – the results of a good development session with the team!

Some brainstorming sketches and ideas – the results of a good development session with the team!

To most people, when they buy a new electronic product such as a laptop, speakers, phone or tablet, the AC adapter power supply (wall plug and cable) that comes with the product is something which is functionally important, but not something that they try to impress their friends with.

This is something that we at MyVolts want to change! As product designers, it’s our job to make powering your devices a really enjoyable experience. You are the user, and your needs are our priority. We know that you want cool stuff for your homes, and that you probably want to hide that box of random power supplies acquired over time. Our goal is to replace that messy collection with something amazing that looks great, feels nice and works efficiently and reliably to provide DC power to power and charge your devices.

We want our product to fit into your home, so we took a trip to IKEA for some inspiration

We want our product to fit into your home, so we took a trip to IKEA for some inspiration

 

One great way of supplying DC power is via USB. Below are some interesting facts that we have discovered following our research into USB power.

USB symbolUSB Power

This is where it gets exciting for us, because at MyVolts, we LOVE USB power. USB power is a safe and easy way to provide DC power and can power many small devices. When carrying out initial research for this design project, I delved into the world of USB power, how it works, its capabilities now and what it will potentially be capable of in the future.

There are many different variants of USB, including: USB type- A, USB type -B, USB mini and micro-USB. We have USB ports on our computers and on our charger plugs, which are usually USB type- A. Right now, these ports are most commonly USB 2.0 specification, providing 5V of DC power and delivering up to 500mA on a laptop and 2.1A on a wall charger. Computer USB ports provide power but can also carry data, while wall charger plugs are usually dedicated to charging and power alone.

USB type-A connector and USB type-A port

USB type-A connector and USB type-A port

Future USB types and specifications, such as USB 3.1PD (power delivery) will carry more power and be more versatile, universally compatible and ultimately USB will be used to power more-and-more devices, replacing old AC adapter plugs.

There is no need to panic though! You can rest assured that USB power will charge your devices just as well as your current AC adapter wall wart. In fact, at the moment if you buy a new phone, you will probably get a charger that has a USB type- A connector at one end. Most mobile phone manufacturers now provide micro-USB to USB type A chargers and very soon a new EU directive* will require all mobile phone manufacturers to make the same type of charger (with the exception of Apple, who will still provide a lightning to USB charging cable.)

 

Apple 30 pin to USB charger and Samsung Galaxy micro-USB to USB charger

 

 

So USB power is pretty cool, right? And the best part is, by using USB power, you can finally take the plunge, declutter and let go of those old unused power supplies, because with what we are making for you, you won’t need them ever again!

– Ellen

*Articles on EU directive: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13579_3-57604904-37/eu-wants-all-companies-ahem-apple-to-use-standard-charger/

http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2013-12/19/universal-phone-charger.

 

 

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