Lego’s latest Idea creation is the International Space Station kit – Blog – 10 minute

In a nutshell: The Lego Idea platform has delivered once again. This crowdsourced hub for “the next big hit” on Tuesday introduced the International Space Station kit that’s sure to dazzle Lego collectors and space buffs alike.
The 864-piece kit features the space station itself complete with two rotating joints and eight adjustable solar panels as well as a posable Canadarm2 robotic arm. The kit includes a stand, two astronaut microfigures, a mini NASA space shuttle and three mini cargo spacecraft.

Fully constructed, the model measures 12 inches long, 19 inches wide and over seven inches high.
You also get a 148-page booklet loaded with facts about the ISS as well as the model’s creator and designer.
Lego’s Idea program has been a real boon for the brickmaker over the past decade. Just last month, for example, one fan submitted a design for Tesla’s recently unveiled Cybertruck that has already gained the backing of more than 10,000 supporters.

An out-of-this-world building experience is coming! 🌙⭐️ The LEGO International Space Station is available February 1st! https://t.co/DZwnyE12EN pic.twitter.com/rcNGTeqC2H
— LEGO (@LEGO_Group) January 21, 2020

We’ve also witnessed Lego bricks continue to blend with pop culture. Several automakers have used the bricks to create life-sized replicas of real life cars. Fox is even set to premiere a Lego-based reality show next month called Lego Masters that’ll pit teams of enthusiasts against each other to see who can build the wildest, most elaborate creations.
The Lego International Space Station is recommended for ages 16 and older although I’m sure younger builders can get some enjoyment out of it as well if you’re willing to lend them a helping hand.

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Visa Now Forays Into The Startup Space.- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

Visa announced recently that it is buying financial services company Plaid for $5.3 billion. ‘Visa to buy Fintech Startup Plaid’ has been quite a popular headlines since yesterday. Plaid’s business model is somewhat similar to that of Stripe. It also develops financial services APIs, also helping developers share banking and other information more easily. 
Visa Inc. had grown into one of the world’s most valuable financial companies by serving as the pipes that help connect banks and merchants. With this purchase, Visa is now making a major bet on the same for data between banks and financial startups.
What’s The Deal But?
Visa had agreed to pay $5.3 billion for Plaid, a fintech firm that connects popular apps like Venmo to customers’ data in the established banking system. We might very well say that this deal caps a meteoric rise for Plaid and also aims to keep fueling Visa’s own ascent, which had almost tripled its stock for the last five years. Plaid’s selling price is currently at $2.65 billion in a 2018 funding round.
Plaid Plays The Financial Game
The developer tools of Plaid help power a range of popular financial apps like Venmo, Coinbase Inc., and Acorns Grow Inc. This is by channeling the banking data they need for the apps and websites. 
Plaid was founded in 2012, and now has more than 200 million accounts linked on its platform, as per an investor presentation. This helps consumers to underscore the demand and send their data to services that can move funds between accounts or into cryptocurrencies, also give advices on personal finances or reimburse someone.
Plaid’s Key Investors
Plaid has been quite proactive in fetching attractive investors from Goldman Sachs Group Inc, and venture capitalist Mary Meeker. Now, Visa and Mastercard are also prominent investors in the company. It’s also expected that Visa might takeover to close in the next 3 to 6 months, with the acquisition adding 80 to 100 basic points to revenue growth in FY2021.
In the long term, the deal would let Visa play a greater role in the financial industry’s tech-driven evolution. In 2018, Plaid has held talks with Jack Dorsey’s Square Inc. Had this acquisition happened, Plaid’s valuation would be at around $1 billion. Last year, Plaid bought one of its competitors, Quovo for around $200 million. 
Challenging For Mastercard And PayPal?
Both Visa and Mastercard have been meaning to expand beyond card payments in the past few years, in order to increase their rapid revenue growth. Mastercard also bought a payments platform owned by Nets for $3.2 billion last year. As of now, Visa has been following a year of frenzied consolidation in the fintech industry. This is majorly because established companies are looking forward to competing with fast-growing startups.
For instance, PayPal Holdings Inc. snapped up online coupon company Honey Science Corp. for $4 billion. Charles Schwab also acquired TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. for $26 billion, and Fiserv Inc., Fidelity Tempemail Information Services Inc., and Global Payments Inc, also had done some major deals in payments processing.

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Facebook is betting big on selling ad space to Chinese companies – Blog – 10 minute

In brief: Facebook is currently banned in China, but that doesn’t mean it can’t tap its potential in other ways. Many Chinese companies want to use the social giant’s global presence and powerful ad tools to get ahead of the competition and expand their customer base, so Facebook is building a team dedicated to helping them out.
Last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg officially gave up on annual challenges, opting for longer-term goals that cover the next decade. Among them are the fight to give more power to the people and a push for establishing rules around issues that are long in the tooth, such as election integrity, privacy, and the sanity of Facebook’s online platforms.
Meanwhile, there’s a lot of money on the table for its advertising business, especially in China. Despite Zuckerberg’s criticism of the region and its tendency to govern big platforms with censorship and strict rules, Facebook is building a new team of engineers in Singapore that will be dedicated solely to driving its advertising business in Southeast Asia.

Reuters notes the biggest challenge will be to develop ad-buying tools that Chinese customers can use to overcome internet restrictions imposed by the government. China is the second-largest source of revenue after the United States, with Facebook selling an estimated $5 billion worth of ad space in the region.
While Zuckerberg is unable to operate Facebook in China, companies, like TikTok owner ByteDance have used Facebook’s ad tools to propagate to a global audience. By the second half of 2019, ByteDance shifted to build its own advertising business to compete with Facebook’s.
Still, that leaves many small startups that need the power of Facebook to achieve visibility in a crowded global landscape. According to Raggy Lau, who runs a small ad agency in China, serving 30 companies, Facebook will see a significant demand for its ad tools this year and beyond.

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Finding new business opportunities in the mergers and acquisitions space- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

In new business, you make your own luck. From working smart by developing key strategic targeting plans to working hard and tenaciously sourcing new leads; it’s luck derived from a strong plan and an even stronger set of actions.
One way to ensure you’re working smart (and hard) with your new business plan is incorporating moments of change into your strategy. This can be anything from upcoming brand anniversaries through to senior personnel changes, or the biggest change of all – a merger or acquisition (M&As).
Moments of change often signify – you guessed it – change. It’s a time when companies are looking outward to bring about and enact something new. It is therefore the perfect time to take action and be at the forefront of some interesting conversations and plans.
That said, a lot is happening during the M&A process – jobs are changing, internal politics are at play and, in some cases, the competition and markets authority (CMA) still needs to approve the deal. But with all that said and done, it offers a wealth of opportunities for agency business development.
So why M&A’s?
With big changes, comes big responsibility. We joke, but we also don’t. When a company is undergoing an M&A, it often means a new company is on the horizon, and in some cases, the need to create a new brand. This means that there will be a future need for things like brand strategy, brand identity, internal and external communications, design, sponsorship, employee communications and digital.
M&A’s, unlike other moments of change, offer opportunities across the board.
They also provide great opportunities to use the ‘show me you know me’ approach as part of your outreach. While congratulating a marketeer on their latest campaign or product launch is valid, demonstrating that you understand what their business is currently going through and their wider business needs can be a big win, especially if you can show you understand the potential challenges this change poses. It’s especially true when marketing is primarily focused on growth.
Let’s get down to business: things to consider before targeting M&A’s
First up, take what you read in the news about a potential M&A with a pinch of salt. If the press say it’s confirmed, check to see if the article mentions anything about the CMA approving the deal or whether they’re in discussions. It is unlikely an M&A can happen without their approval. You can nevertheless start conversations with the organisations while they’re in this phase. Just be aware that there is a risk that this M&A will not come to fruition.
Think back to the npower and SSE talks in 2018, which were subsequently called off due to ‘challenging conditions’ among increasing competition and government price caps. Make sure you weigh up beforehand whether the brands at play are valuable enough for the effort. (That said, if the M&A doesn’t proceed, your newly-formed senior relationships may still be valuable.)
Next, ensure you get an understanding of why a company is looking to undergo a merger or acquisition. It’s no simple task for an organisation, so often they’re doing it to expand the company’s reach (in new markets and among new audiences) or to gain market share and impact shareholder value.
Lastly, consider your language. Make sure it’s softer. When it comes to brands in the M&A process, you want to be polite and careful. While there is plenty of opportunity for interesting discussions, a lot is still unclear for people within the companies, so don’t come bounding in with expectations and talk like the deal is set in stone. Create a tone and use language that reflects a helping hand or guiding figure.
The upside
With all that said and done, there are some serious perks to targeting brands who are undergoing an M&A.
M&A’s will command senior stakeholders and management attention; they’ll be considering the future of the company from a strategic brand point of view through to communications both internally and externally. If you’re looking to engage with and create relationships with those in senior roles, using the M&A to shape your approach and how you could share insights around their challenges will catch their attention – and be something they’re more likely to create time for amid the change.
It’s also worth considering the effect an M&A might have on a sector and what this means for their competitors and the market in general. M&A’s often occur to increase a company’s dominance in a market, so competitors are likely keeping a close eye on this and put a game plan together that enables them to remain prevalent in moments of change to ensure they come out as market leaders. It is therefore an interesting time to start conversations with the other players in the category – even if the M&A doesn’t directly involve them.
Other benefits include the ability to carve out and shape a potential brief. If you get in early, as a guiding hand, then you’ll have more scope to swoop in when the time comes, as you can offer to define the brief with your previously-built relationships.
But when’s the right time?
We wish we had the perfect, neatly tied-up answer for this – that you should contact brands at the seventh hour, on the seventh day of the seventh week but unfortunately, it isn’t that simple (like everything with M&A’s).
There is no perfect time. Waiting until things are 100% confirmed and moving forward will mean that you are likely to miss out as things might move faster at that point. Likewise, hitting too early and acting like things are confirmed won’t win you any favours either.
Depending on where companies are in process, people will be moving around – either between departments or leaving the business altogether. So think and tread carefully; expect to meet a lot of new faces along this journey.
The final downside you should consider around M&A’s is how to incorporate them into your new business strategy. They’re part of the long strategy game. With all the chop and change of business, there’s also periods of settlement. While conversations can begin early and be ongoing, it might take longer than normal for projects to come to life. If you’re looking for quick wins, M&A’s might not be for you
Important pointers
Before you crack on, here’s a few final, important pointers for how to apply M&A to your new business activity:

Understand what the company’s future pain points could be and subtly show how you can help combat or erase them – from uniting two brands and two workforces, to the need for a new purpose or identity.
Refer to experience you have in this area.
If you don’t have highly relevant case studies, be sure to demonstrate understanding of industry trends. M&A’s often come about because companies are wanting to enter new markets, build a bigger presence or have a greater market share. What’s happening in their sector, and how they can overcome new disruptions will be key areas of interest.
Too many agencies avoid M&As when it comes to their new business plan, largely because there are so many variables at play. Bear this in mind.

Truthfully, there’s some interesting conversations to be had, doors to knock on and knowledge to share during this time of need. A lot remains the same in the general new business outreach game, but as long as you go in softer and focus on being more of a guiding figure (with expectations of campaigns put on a slow back burner), then you’re on to a real winner, we promise.
Alison Ralph, senior account manager at The Future Factory.

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Cadbury enters VOD space with Amazon Prime Video to heighten Creme Egg experience- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

With Christmas out of the way, Cadbury is back promoting its seasonal Easter treat, the Creme Egg, by launching a chocolate-based video-on-demand (VOD) platform.
A less chartered space for confectionary brands, the content streaming market is dominated by the likes of Netflix, Disney and Amazon.
Created by its creative agency Elvis, this is a new direction for the brand as it is its first non-broadcast channel campaign. A playful take on the burgeoning space, Cadbury has developed ‘EATertainment’ – a free-to-access video streaming platform – filled with original content purposefully produced to ‘heighten’ the Cream Egg experience.
And fans will find two cinematic pieces of original content sat exclusively on the Amazon Prime Hub, written and produced by Amazon, including ‘The Last Delivery’ that follows a baker and her gang battling low supplies as they try to get their hands on the ‘last delivery.’

While Cadbury is hoping to reach audiences beyond digital, social and out-of-home, it will utilise these mediums to give people a taste of what can be found on the hub.
Discussing the change of direction, Raphael Capitani, brand manager, Cadbury Creme Egg, said: “We’re truly thrilled to reveal this ‘eggciting’ new direction for Cadbury Creme Egg, in partnership with Elvis. With the launch of ‘EATertainment’, we’re turning the Creme Egg eating experience into entertainment. We’re going to offer people the perfectly paired feast for their eyes and ears when they tuck into a tasty Cadbury Creme Egg.”
Adding to this, James Hudson, associate creative director at Elvis commented: “Consumers today either want utility or entertainment – and increasingly ignore brands and ads that don’t deliver against this. Cadbury Creme Egg is a brand born to entertain, and what better way to act like an entertainment brand than playfully wading into the streaming war? Get ready to eat with your eyes and ears.”

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NASA Tests Space Concrete for Future Mars Habitats


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NASA is looking toward a future when humans could visit Mars for an extended period, and Elon Musk is promising to send people there in the next decade. Whenever humans do set foot on Mars, they’re going to need someplace to hang their hat (or spacesuit helmet). Concrete could potentially allow explorers to build structures quickly and easily, assuming it sets correctly without Earth gravity. NASA has conducted experiments aboard the International Space Station (ISS) to assess the strength of concrete mixed in space. 

Scientists believe concrete could be an ideal material for building on other worlds because it’s durable, offers protection from radiation, and it may be possible to make it using materials present on the moon and Mars. Being able to manufacture building materials at your destination (known as in-situ resources) makes missions cheaper and easier to design because you don’t have to launch as much mass from Earth. 

However, there’s a lot we still don’t know about the molecular structure of concrete here on Earth. Concrete is a mixture of sand and gravel with lime or silicate (cement powder). As the cement dissolves in water, it forms crystal complexes that link together the aggregate to make a solid structure. The process of mixing and building with concrete is well established on Earth, but we don’t know how microgravity could affect it. Do we need to modify the ratios? Add additional materials? That’s what the ISS experiment aims to find out. 

ISS concrete above and Earth concrete below.

The experiment, known as Microgravity Investigation of Cement Solidification (MICS), is the first time concrete has been mixed outside of Earth’s gravity. Astronauts aboard the ISS mixed tricalcium silicate and water in varying amounts to create a concrete paste. The astronauts added alcohol to some of the packets to stop the hydration process at set intervals as well. A separate experiment used a centrifuge simulated lunar and Martian gravity on the samples as they mixed. 

The experiment confirms that concrete can harden in microgravity, which is a good thing. That means we can build structures with concrete outside of Earth’s gravity. The primary difference is an increase in pores compared with concrete mixed on Earth, and that could reduce the material’s strength. However, lower gravity on the moon or Mars would also put it under less strain. It may be possible to develop different binders that improve the strength of lunar or Martian concrete, and that may even lead to better concrete here on Earth.

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Relativity Space signs its the satellite transportation company Momentus as its first customer – gpgmail


Relativity Space, the startup developing manufacturing technologies for entirely 3D printed rockets and space equipment, has signed its latest paying customer, the orbital transportation startup, Momentus.

Relativity’s Terran 1 rocket will carry Momentus’ small and medium-sized satellite payloads on its rocket and Momentus will then move those satellites into geosynchronous orbit using its own in-space shuttle technology.

The deal between Momentus and Relativity covers the first Terran 1 launch scheduled for 2021, with the option for five additional Relativity launches, according to a statement from the company.

Carrying Momentus’ payloads enables the company to include more diverse ranges of orbits for Terran 1’s initial launch, including geostationary transfer orbit, Lunar and deep space orbits, lower inclinations and phasing multiple spacecraft in low Earth orbit, the company said.

The tie-up links two of Y Combinator’s space-focused alumni, with Momentus graduating in 2018 and Relativity launching from the accelerator in 2016.

In July, Momentus closed on a $25 million round of funding to move its business from simply providing a thruster for existing small-sats to becoming a full-service provider of orbital transportation services for payloads. The company’s key innovation was the development of a water-based plasma propulsion system for low-cost transportation in space. That’s what powers the company’s Vigoride orbital shuttle.

Meanwhile, Relativity Space is barreling ahead with its own technology development. 

With the goal of building a rocket that goes from raw materials to launch-ready in less than 60 days with a payload capacity of up to 1250 kilograms, the company is planning its first test launch in 2020 with a commercial payload ready for 2021.

So far the company has performed 200 engine tests to date across 14 different serial numbers and begun conducting turbo pump testing as well. Testing has also begun on the company’s initial avionics hardware, according to company co-founder Tim Ellis.

Relativity has also started printing and stress testing some second stage structures and is beginning to print its larger primary stage structures now.

“With Momentus’ innovations in sustainable in-space ‘last mile’ solutions, we look forward to working together to expand Terran 1’s flexibility and offering beyond LEO, offering small and medium satellite launch opportunities with industry-defining lead time, flexibility, and cost,” Ellis said in a statement. “This partnership will enable us to build the space economy faster, and accelerate the future of humanity in space.”

The company has dramatically expanded its production, testing and launch facilities to include 280,000 square feet of operations on facilities at Cape Canaveral in Florida and the NASA Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

Relativity also has customer agreements with Telesat, to support their low Earth orbit constellation; the Thai satellite and space technology company, mu Space; and Spaceflight Industries to launch their smallsat ride-shares.

 


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ESA Calls for Space Traffic Rules After Near Miss With SpaceX Satellite


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We talk often about how big space is, and indeed, it is really, mind-bogglingly big. However, space around Earth is feeling smaller all the time. SpaceX has launched the first few dozen of what will eventually grow to a swarm of thousands of satellites. Several days ago, the ESA had to perform the first-ever satellite avoidance maneuver to avoid colliding with a SpaceX Starlink satellite. This has prompted experts to call for a universal space traffic control system to avoid future collisions. 

SpaceX plans to use its Starlink satellite network to deliver broadband internet access to Earth and deployed 60 of them earlier this year. That’s just the beginning, though. Elon Musk and company plan to have around 2,000 satellites in space by the end of 2019. Eventually, the SpaceX “mega constellation” will include more than 12,000 satellites. SpaceX isn’t the only company planning to launch large fleets of satellites, either. Companies like OneWeb and Kuiper intend to have large networks in Earth orbit soon. 

What a SpaceX Starlink satellite looks like in orbit.

Despite the hugeness of Space, the ESA’s Aeolus satellite (above) found itself on a possible collision course with Starlink 44 earlier this week. The chance of collision was about 1 in 1,000, but that’s 10 times higher than the ESA’s acceptable risk level. That’s not great, sure, but the real issue is the ESA was unable to contact SpaceX operators to discuss the problem. The agency decided to alter Aeolus’ course just to be safe, and no satellites were harmed. 

SpaceX says a bug in its on-call paging system prevented officials from seeing the ESA’s messages. The company had last communicated with the ESA several days before when the estimated chance of collision was orders of magnitude less likely. However, all this communication happens over email, and the ESA contends this is a dangerously inefficient way to manage space traffic in the age of mega-constellations. 

There are currently about 5,000 satellites orbiting Earth, but only roughly 2,000 are active. SpaceX by itself could more than double the number of satellites whizzing around Earth. Add a few more companies with mega-constellations, and there could be some awful traffic jams. Attempting to coordinate all that via email is infeasible. Even one collision could produce thousands of microscopic pieces of debris that could hit other satellites, setting off a chain reaction that damages important space-based systems. 

According to the ESA, now is the time to develop traffic rules and communication protocols to prevent satellite collisions. It might be too late if we wait until SpaceX has 12,000 satellites beaming down broadband.

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Fleet Space Technologies raises $7.35M for its space-based IoT tech – gpgmail


Australian satellite startup Fleet Space Technologies has raised a $7.35 million round of funding to help launch its next generation of nanosatellites, extremely small satellites it employs to deliver Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity to customers globally.

Fleet’s satellites are roughly the size of shoe boxes, which are much cheaper and easier to launch than traditional geocommnications satellites, and the company intends to use a globe-spanning constellation of these in order to serve needs like tracking construction equipment assets, monitoring pipelines and other utility infrastructure and more.

Already, Fleet has launched four of its nanosatellites to orbit on a number of different rockets, including an Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) rocket, a Rocket Lab launch and via SpaceX . Its existing fleet is only a very small part of its planned constellation, but already the startup says it has witnessed “unprecedented demand” from more than three million compatible devices registered to join their network.

Connected IoT in industrial applications is a huge potential market, and could be made up of more than 14 billion low-power devices by 2025, Fleet Space says, based on IDC estimates. That’s a lot of hardware that needs to be able to effectively connect to, and communicate with, central hubs. Edge computing is a huge trend right now, where a lot of these previously fairly rudimentary on-device sensors and monitors are able to do more processing on-site, but at some point the value of a network of IoT devices is that the resulting data can be collected, analyzed, turned into product improvements and redeployed.

Fleet’s nanosatellite (dog for scale). Image courtesy of Fleet.

Fleet’s tech is the connective tissue that can bind all these devices in a way that’s much more scalable and affordable for commercial and industrial clients large and small. Satellite-based network coverage works in tandem with ground-based networks, which helps ensure there aren’t any blind spots in industries where communication can be hard to come by, like agriculture, forestry and mining.

This round of funding includes investment from Momenta Ventures and Horizon Ventures, and adds to the previous $5 million AUD ($3.4 million USD) that Fleet raised previously from Blackbird Ventures and Grok Ventures, with contribution from the South Australian government.


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USB4 brings better speeds and compatibility — but loses the space in the name – gpgmail


The organizations behind the widely used USB standard have released some new info on the latest iteration of the interface, and it’s nothing but good news for consumers. It’ll be faster and bring improved compatibility, with no need to pay close attention to which cable or port you’re using. And pedants take note: there’s no longer a space after “USB” and the number.

USB4, as it’s now styled (versus USB 4), was announced in March with a few promises regarding features, but now the actual technical specifications have been released to anyone who cares to inspect them. It’s another step in the process of bringing a major standard from idea to reality.

There are three main improvements in USB4 over USB 3 (or 3.2, or 3.1 gen2v2… the naming system is a mess):

Better speed. USB4 tops out at 40 gigabits per second, twice the speed of the latest version of USB 3 and 8 times the speed of the original USB 3 standard, which was of course itself way faster than what it was replacing. It’ll also support the max speed of previous cables and interfaces.

Universal Thunderbolt 3 compatibility. Thunderbolt 3 is Intel’s proprietary implementation of USB 3, which you’d find on Intel boards and those of any company that had licensed the tech. But Intel has come to realize that it was counterproductive to split things off like this, so they’re providing the Thunderbolt 3 spec for free. Anyone making a USB4 device or cable can make it compatible with Intel’s standard; it’s possible, but unlikely, that some will choose not to. There’s no reason for it, but who knows?

Improved display/data splitting. USB 3 introduced the ability to use a single cable to send power, data, and a video signal (basically just more but specialized data) over a single cable. Great! But sometimes, depending on how you set it up, it could only send one or the other, or speeds were greatly reduced. USB4 does this much better, so if you have a monitor that uses up 8 Gbps for its video bandwidth, the full 32 Gbps will be available for other purposes. It’s just one of those behind the scenes changes that will make things better and easier for everyone.

The other good news about USB4 is that it doesn’t use a new connector. We’re still in the transition period from the big rectangular port, the small trapezoidal one, the big trapezoidal one, and so on, to the sleek USB-C plugs that you can’t do wrong even if you try. Changing that again would be disastrous — so the connector will be the same.

Two not-so-good pieces of news, though: It won’t be here for a while and it might be a little more expensive. These ports are complicated things and the ability to send more data, power, and so on means it’s a little harder to make. And despite the spec being published today, it’ll almost certainly be at least a year before any products come out that use it.

Lastly is the name. The computing hardware industry is notoriously bad at naming stuff, and USB 3 was no exception to the rule. It was always annoying trying to figure out what version of USB was supported, what that meant, and so on. So from now on, USB4 is the name until they come up with USB5.

Speaking to Tom’s Hardware, USB Promoter Group CEO Brad Saunders said they just wanted to simplify things, and prevent the profusion of products sporting version number badges that could confuse consumers.

“We don’t plan to get into a 4.0, 4.1, 4.2 kind of iterative path,” he explained. “We want to keep it as simple as possible. When and if it goes faster, we’ll simply have the faster version of the certification and the brand.”

 


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