What Is a Car USB Socket?

Mark Wollacott

A car USB socket is used to power or enable portable devices to work in a car. USB is short for ‘Universal Serial Bus’ and was designed for use with the central processing units (CPUs) of computers. As computers got smaller, these units have been placed in cars and other automobiles. The USB socket requires compatible plugs and equipment in order to perform its function. It is possible to manually install such sockets into older car models.

A variety of USB cables, which can be used with a car USB socket.
A variety of USB cables, which can be used with a car USB socket.

The original USB port was designed by Ajay Bhatt of Intel. It was used to connect devices to computer processors. Over time, it became the standard replacement for other types of port and sockets such as parallel ports. Originally, it was used to connect devices such as a mouse, keyboard, monitor and printer. It developed further so that MP3 players, mobile phones, cameras and video game consoles could make use of the technology.

Devices like GPS can be plugged into a car using a USB socket.
Devices like GPS can be plugged into a car using a USB socket.

Since the first car was first invented, possibly as far back as 1769, there have been constant revisions and improvements. In the late 20th century, this included the move away from analog parts to digital and electric elements. At the same time, peripheral equipment such as the clock and the radio improved to include CD players and satellite navigation (Sat-Nav). The car USB socket was designed to allow onboard computers perform additional functions.

Sat-Nav is an automotive navigation system that relies upon America’s global positional system (GPS). The GPS tells the car’s computer where the car is, then compares it to a map stored in the CPU’s memory. Sat-Nav systems require a computer screen that can be attached using a car USB socket if such a device is not already installed in the car.

Most modern cars have in-built computer systems and screens on the dashboard above the cigarette lighter and CD player/radio. In this regard, the car USB socket or port is used to plug accessories into the computer. As many nations have outlawed the use of mobile phones while driving, the car USB socket can be used to plug the phone into the car for charging. It can then be combined with a hands-free system using the radio speakers to conduct any conversations hands-free.

The car USB socket can also be used to charge a number of other devices including laptops, camera batteries and MP3 batteries. The MP3 player can be plugged in and used to play music through the radio system. This means the driver no longer has to change CDs or switch radio channels, plus the driver can draw upon a much larger library of tunes.

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