HDMI Licensing, LLC released a new HDMI Alt Mode that will enable direct video output from a device to a display over USB Type-C without the need for any special adapters or converters.
USB Type-C ports with support for HDMI Alt Mode will have the same video output features as an HDMI 1.4b connection. This includes the ability to output audio and 4K video, and it can also access the internet over the connection as well using HEC (HDMI Ethernet Channel).
“USB Type-C is quickly becoming the connector of choice for many types of consumer electronics products wanting a single solution for audio, video, data and power,” said Jeff Ravencraft, USB-IF President and COO. “Easily connecting devices with USB Type-C to the huge installed base of HDMI-enabled TVs is a substantial benefit to consumers. We’re also coordinating with HDMI Licensing to ensure consumers can recognize when HDMI Alt Mode is supported on USB Type-C devices,” he added.
Interestingly, HDMI Licensing, LCC, didn’t go into detail on how HDMI Alt Mode works. The cable itself does not use any hardware to alter the signals sent over the wires, which means the smart device must encode the signal before transmitting it to the display. It could be that HDMI Alt Mode can be enabled in firmware, but it may also require additional hardware to work.
There are several other USB Type-C Alt Modes already on the market, such as SuperMHL and DisplayPort ALT Mode, but these require additional hardware controllers that raise production costs and have seen limited adoption as a result. If HDMI Alt Mode needs a new controller as well, then it, too, may struggle.
“The USB Type-C connector is gaining traction in the mobile and PC markets,” said Rob Tobias, president of HDMI Licensing, LLC. “Consumers expect to easily connect these devices to displays with a USB Type-C to HDMI cable and utilize the capabilities and features of native HDMI. This specification will also result in more source devices incorporating HDMI. HDMI continues to evolve to meet the needs of the over 1,600 worldwide adopters making HDMI products, and grow upon the nearly six billion HDMI devices shipped,” he said.
HDMI Licensing, LLC feels confident that it will succeed, however, due to the widespread adoption of HDMI. The HDMI Alt Mode is available now to OEMs, so we should see devices supporting HDMI Alt Mode sometime in 2017.