Looking at the back or sides of your hospital’s medical computers can reveal a dizzying array of ports and plugs, all of them meant to interface with other devices and help you better treat your patients. In recent years, you may have noticed a new addition to this gathering of ports: a small, unassuming oval shape. 

This new shape is for the USB-C connector, the latest type of USB system. USB, or universal serial bus, has been the industry standard for computers, electronic hardware, and peripheral devices since 1995. USB ports were designed to replace older types of ports like serial, parallel, and game ports and are most frequently used to enable devices like mice and keyboards to work with a computer. Because USB is the industry standard, it also allows users to switch from one device to another, even if they come from different manufacturers, so long as the USB connectors themselves match. 

USB-C: The Latest in the USB Series

Physically, the USB-C system features a rotational-symmetrical connector with 24 connector pins. That’s a bit of a mouthful, so let’s break down what those terms mean:

  • Rotational symmetry: If you’ve ever tried to plug in a USB cable before, you’ve almost certainly had that experience where the plug won’t fit in, forcing you to turn it over and try again. USB-C, however, is rotationally symmetrical, meaning it has no “up” side or “down” side. As long as the plug is correctly aligned with the port, it will plug in without a problem. 
  • 24 connector pins: The connector pins, as their name implies, connect with matching pins on the other device to transfer data and power. The USB-C features 16 data transfer pins, 4 power pins, and 4 grounding pins. For comparison, the USB-A 3.0 connector only has 9 pins: 6 for data, 1 for power, and 2 for grounding. 

Advantages of USB-C In General

Thanks to being a more modern piece of technology, the USB-C connector system has several advantages over its predecessors. These advantages include:

  • Symmetrical Design: Unlike older USB ports, there’s no right side to worry about when plugging in. This feature is especially convenient for plugging into areas already crowded with other plugs and wires or when the port is difficult to reach. 
  • Speed: USB-C plugs feature more data transfer pins than their predecessors, meaning they can upload and download data much faster. A standard USB-C connection can transfer 10 gigabytes of data per second over a 1-meter-long cable. By comparison, most USB-A connectors max out at 5 gigabytes per second. 
  • Power transfer: USB-C’s greater number of power pins makes it a great way to recharge or power other devices, such as medical tablets, RFID readers, phones, and more. 
  • Small size: Despite its greater functionality, USB-C is half the width and one-third the height of USB-A. This makes it easier for manufacturers to physically fit the port onto the computer or device. 
  • Flexibility: USB-C plugs can still work with older devices that don’t have USB-C ports by using the appropriate adapter, allowing for backward compatibility. 

Why Use USB-C on Medical Computers

In the specialized field of medical computers and devices, there are several reasons why USB-C is a superior connector system. These reasons are:

  • Symmetrical Design: This feature was already mentioned, but it bears repeating. USB-C’s greatest advantage for healthcare IT professionals, or anyone who has to plug and unplug their device repeatedly throughout the day, is that the plug can be inserted both ways without worrying about damaging the connector itself. 
  • Multipurpose: Because the USB-C features both power and data transfer pins, it can serve both functions at the same time, negating the need for separate power and data cables. This saves space on the PC, leaving more room for other ports that may be needed. Because hospitals often use legacy equipment reliant on older and larger serial ports, this lets the computer work with both old and new equipment. 
  • Faster speed and higher bandwidth: USB-C enables higher data transfer rates between a device and the medical computer, making it perfect for high-stakes tasks such as in the operating room. In an environment where seconds can be the difference between life and death, surgeons can’t afford to wait for data from their instruments to finish downloading. 
  • Supports alternate modes: Another advantage of USB-C connectors is that they support multiple forms of data, such as serving as a display port output. This means that the user of a medical monitor can have several video outputs, allowing multiple people to view the same data using different screens. 

All of these factors combined make it easy to see why USB-C is becoming a standard choice to include on medical PCs. 

Closing Thoughts

The ongoing march of progress naturally includes taking advantage of the newest and best connectors. If your company or hospital is interested in medical computers with USB-C connector ports, contact us here at Cybernet Manufacturing. Our expert staff are more than happy to explain the advantages of our medical PCs and tablets.  

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