Have you heard of TransferJet? We won't begrudge you if you haven't. It's a fairly obscure bit of technology that hasn't managed to work its way into many consumer products, despite first launching to the public back in 2008. So, consider this whole article a bit of indulgent dreaming when we tell you about Toshiba's newly-announced micro-USB adapter that can add TransferJet capabilities to Android phones. What does that mean? Well, it means 560Mbps transfers between devices with a tap. To put it another way: you could easily send 250MB worth of data from one handset to another in the time it takes to read this sentence (or about 70MB/sec).


Before you get too hot and bothered, a little more background is in order. For starters, TransferJet has existed for a while and serves as something of a competitor/complement to NFC in that it requires very close range (only a few cm), can speak directly to the device it's touching without a mediator unlike WiFi devices which need a router, and uses ridiculously low amounts of power. Where it differs is that it can't be used in passive tags (so you can't embed photos of video in a keychain or something), transfers data insanely fast, and it does not have a huge amount of widespread support.

A consortium of companies have signed on to be "promoters" of the standard, but for an example of just how much a group of tech companies working together guarantees a product's proliferation, I'd like to direct you to the Google TV alliance. Or the Android update alliance. While big names like Nikon, Samsung, Sony, and Toshiba are attached, that doesn't mean that everyone is going to be jumping on this. As further evidence, the last two generations of Galaxy S Phones have included NFC (on at least some models) yet, despite TransferJet being as old as Android itself and Samsung being among the key partners, there is a distinct lack of support on the most important flagship phones from the manufacturer.

Does this mean we'll never see TransferJet become standard? Certainly not. Any kind of new spec takes time to grow and despite the relative lack of consumer facing devices that include it, this tech keeps showing up CES after CES. Still, it's unlikely that this generic micro-USB dongle is going to be the accessory to save the spec.

If you're still interested, however, Toshiba will be selling this unit to smartphone and tablet manufacturers in March of this year. They'll then be able to develop Android-based software for it. With a bit of luck, we might see some dongles show up around Summer.

Okay, yes, the more I write about it, the less convinced I am this will actually catch on in any meaningful way, but I did say this was indulgent dreaming, right?

Source: Businesswire

Eric Ravenscraft
Eric is a snarky technophile with a taste for the unusual. When he's not obsessing about Android, you can usually find him obsessing about movies, psychology, or the perfect energy drink. Eric weaves his own special blend of snark, satire, and comedy into all his articles.

  • Cherokee4Life

    umm it would be cool it this was built into my Android phone/tablet and I could add a dongle to my computer.

    = saving Titanium Backups to my computer 10 times quicker!

  • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

    I wish this was integrated into everything: my tablet, phone, desktop, laptop, USB drives, SD cards - everything. Beam all the things at the speed 1000x+ faster than NFC.

  • http://twitter.com/whatisajimmy ok

    In this day and age of dwindling SD card-welcoming phones...Why don't they make a USB adapter like this that adds memory instead of a super-situational file transfer solution...? Anyone?

    • digi_owl

      Compaq produced a range of PDAs that could have a sleeve added for additional storage, battery and other features (PCMCIA slots were common). I guess something similar could be done using those battery cases that keeps popping up.

      Not sure how well Android 4.x handles external storage tho. I would have thought they end up under the same rules as SD cards. Meaning that by default an apps ability to write to them are severely limited.

      Also, there is this: http://www.noosyapple.com/cp/html/?69.html

      Full size usb at one end, micro at the other, a microSD slot and some internal storage. Been meaning to grab one for a while now.

      • http://twitter.com/whatisajimmy ok

        That's less-than-ideal to have plugged in all day though because of how long it is - it's like a flash drive. They really should start making plug-in memory expansions that are designed to be small and/or sit flush with the phone's microUSB port. I'm talking (excuse the Apple reference) a-la MiniDrive for Macbooks.

        • digi_owl

          Yep, i showed it more as a proof of concept than a viable all day attachment.

  • http://twitter.com/sam1am John Samuel αΩ

    So has anyone else noticed that this interfaces through USB? No amount of TransferJet fuel is going to open up that bottleneck, which caps out below this thing's top advertised throughput in theory and well below it in practice.

    Also, it's short range. So you're going to carry this thing around then plug it in instead of a USB cable and set it up and configure it to make it interface with the device you're sitting next to ... which also has a USB port.

    • http://twitter.com/homncruse Aaron Burke

      I thought that was strange too. USB 2.0 has a maximum transfer rate of 280 Mbps USB 3.0 is 5 Gbps but I'm pretty sure we won't be seeing that on our phones for a while. How does this thing achieve 560 Mbps?

      You know what? I think we just discovered why this hasn't seen more widespread adoption.

      • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

        It's not spelled out in the article, but those max transfer speeds are related to the technology/protocol, not this addon-dongle. In other words, if this stuff were built into the phone, you'd be able to achieve these speeds (not that the rest of the hardware in the phone can). Obviously the dongle is going to perform slower, but it's still faster than any SDXC card I've seen.

        Of course, why is anybody complaining that a new technology out performs the other stuff? LTE can (theoretically) download data faster than your sd card can write it, that doesn't stop people from wanting it... One day our memory cards will catch up....

        • http://twitter.com/homncruse Aaron Burke

          "LTE can (theoretically) download data faster than your sd card can write it, that doesn't stop people from wanting it..."

          Truth. I use that argument every time someone (i.e., a Verizon fanboy) proclaims that any carrier who isn't Verizon is "too slow", that Verizon is the "only way", "nobody comes close", etc., etc.

          • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

            It's not like that much speed is useless since it can feed into web pages or video rather than just downloading to sd cards, but I'm with you, I think people who care about speed that much aren't really thinking it through. Again though, just because one technology is the bottleneck today, it might not be next year. I'd don't mind LTE being super fast now and storage catching up later.

  • http://codytoombs.wordpress.com/ Cody Toombs

    Kinda think this would be a big step towards solving the age-old complaint that it's such a pain to manage files on our phones. Wires always had problems, but putting a phone on top of or next to a laptop with the ability to transfer hundreds of photos in a few seconds or all of our backups, roms, movies, etc... Kinda love it and hope it catches on.

  • GazaIan

    I mean it sounds nice, but what use is the super speed when our SD Cards and internal memory probably don't even copy faster than 20MB/s? Mine tops out at ~17MB/s, and thats only when I put the SD Card into the SD card slot in my computer rather than doing it over USB.

    • http://twitter.com/homncruse Aaron Burke

      Not everything transferred over-the-wire (er, over-the-air) is meant for writing to disk.