Taming Type-C with the Advanced Cable Tester

Earlier this week we released the Advanced Cable Tester - the first of its kind cable tester. (Read our press release.) From concept through design to production, this has been the most exciting and wonderful project that I’ve ever been associated with (and I have been around for a while).

Advanced Cable Tester

Approximately two years ago, the USB-IF released several new standards including the USB Type-C Cable and Connector and the Power Delivery Specifications. Together those specifications deliver 10 Gbps data with up to 100 watts of power in a compact, reversible connector.  You could tell the specs were “a winner” – these technologies have the promise to eliminate the traditional laptop power brick, enable a single universal cell phone charger, standardize on a single cable to display video on larger screens (regardless of the underlying protocols selected by the manufacturers), and reduce charging times by up to 80% - but with any new technology implementation the devil is in the details.

Early in the Fall of 2015, Total Phase released the USB Power Delivery Analyzer – it was our entry into the all new USB Power Delivery market, and a chance to learn the practical challenges faced by the new ecosystem. We socialized the concept of building a cable tester with some customers – we quickly recognized that the requirements for USB Type-C cables were far beyond those of any existing cable, but interest was low since no other cable-type requires similar stringent testing – it didn’t make sense for manufacturers and large brands to invest in testing cables when the cables didn’t cause many significant issues.

Then, in late-2015, an engineer by the name of Benson Leung, started testing USB Type-C cables and reporting on those outcomes through product reviews and on his personal blog. This was a new frontier, the wild wild west of cables, at the time Type-C was fairly new to the market, the specification was not yet widely adopted and manufacturing processes were still under development.

The increased number of features, over legacy USB cables, makes the manufacturing of these cables increasingly more difficult. It’s these increased features and a variety of unregulated manufacturing procedures that open the world to a litany of potential problems, ranging from delivering incorrect voltages to experiencing fatal shorts. Benson garnered worldwide attention when he purchased a shorted cable on Amazon. Thus further validated our position that these cables need to be tested.

So we socialized the idea of the cable tester again. This time we took our research a littler further and interviewed almost 60 customers, including three of the five largest USB cable manufacturers, to understand their needs. We also spoke with a number companies that develop products for personal electronics devices and computers. Again and again, we heard the same thing - they are in need of testing equipment that is cost effective, easy to use, covers the full breadth of functionality, and can easily be added to an existing production line.  With all those criteria met, manufacturers would be happy to test every cable.

So we got to work, and began to develop the Advanced Cable Tester.

In the meanwhile reports of issues directly related to USB Type-C began increasing in numbers. These are not small issues, Anker, a major player in the chargers and device accessories world recently recalled one of their USB-C cables, and Apple announced a USB-C charge cable replacement program. There are more...

AnkerApple

After over a year in the making, I am pleased to say that we are now shipping the first ever of its kind Advanced Cable Tester.

Our goal is to protect consumers, manufacturers and product developers from experiencing the pain of bad cables. “Pain” is actually an understatement. Faulty cables can prevent your device from charging entirely. Faulty cables can fail to deliver your mission critical data or video. Faulty cables can deliver more voltage/power than expected for charging or provide current to the wrong pins - frying devices or even starting fires. Imagine what this could mean to the consumer, and now imagine the damage this can do to a company’s reputation and their bottom-line.

One, 20 second, 5-cent test can save everyone from a whole host of headaches.

Click here to learn more about the Advanced Cable Tester and how it can save your device, save you money and save your brand.

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