For almost 2 decades now, we have seen first hand just how problematic digital sensors can be. At first, it seemed like there was no rhyme or reason. Dr's would call us and say "why is my sensor so unreliable?" or "why am I constantly having connection issues?".
Around 10 years ago, we began to notice a trend. Worn or bent USB connectors seemed to be the root cause of the digital sensor issues - but it was more complicated than that. Certain USB chipsets seemed to be more reliable than others. Certain extension cables seemed to be more reliable than others. Some USB hubs worked, some didn't.
We spent years testing and comparing data, before we finally concluded that this issue boils down to RESISTANCE! More specifically, every digital sensor has unique power demands. Some draw low amounts of power at idle, but max out USB capabilities at exposure. Some draw MAX USB power at idle.
Let's talk power!
The USB 2.0 standard was designed to output 5v at 500mA. If your digital sensor is a high power consumer, it may require every bit of that 500mA to function properly. So when your USB connector begins to wear, it creates electrical resistance on those contacts. This can result in only 480mA reaching the sensor. Some sensors can handle this, while others begin to freak out. Gendex sensors are notorious for freaking out over subtle amperage drops, while Vatech sensors seems to tolerate a lot more wear and tear.
We found that once a sensor began to display intermittent issues, all you had to do was boost that connection by replacing the USB extension cable. The problem is, the USB cable is only have of the equation and you now have a half worn sensor connector that's not replaceable. So replacing the USB cable works, but before long your issues will resurface. At this point cables alone no longer do the trick - you need more power! Cue the USB active cables, or USB powered hubs. This will get your sensors going by providing more direct power and a managed connection, but again, you have a sensor connector that's now even more worn. Eventually, no amount of hubs, cables, or anything else you can try will be able to overcome the resistance - and you'll need to replace the sensor. Sound familiar?
The bottom line is this... USB is NOT a high volume connector. It's rated for 1500 uses - but in our experience, you get about 1000. You can use adapters, and hubs, and extensions until you're blue in the face - but unless you move AWAY from USB, you will always be confronted with this use limitation.
That's when we decided to take matters into our own hands. It was clear that sensor manufacturers were not interested in moving away from USB, and this problem was not going away on its own... So we developed an ACTIVE USB cable, with a high volume magnetic connector. This solves many problems in one fowl swoop! The active component provides stable power output, even if your USB port is lagging behind. The magnetic connector is VERY easy to use, and more importantly, it is rated for 10,000+ uses! This solution is basically almost permanent.
While the financial aspect is the most obvious, something worth considering is the amount of time spent dealing with issues, frustrated patients, and downtime. Even if you manage to get a cheap USB adapter to work, you're still using USB! Before long, it will begin to fail - and while you saved your sensor, you didn't save your time and your patients had to watch your staff struggle with your digital sensors. Unfortunately, you find out your adapter needs replacing when you have a patient in the chair and your sensor stops working. So if you want to solve this problem for good, then you need USB Sensor Saver.