The WebUSB API was designed for USB devices to safely connect to the web without the need for a dedicated platform. (Image credit: Pixabay)

 

The WebUSB platform has been out for a while now and uses an API for connecting USB devices directly to different web pages depending on the task. It was created with the vision for use as an internet connectivity platform for hardware developers and manufacturers of non-standardized USB devices, effectively eliminating the need to code native drivers and SDKs in order for them to function.

 

The API functions as a gateway to safely connect anything USB to the internet, from keyboards to IoT devices, and is backward compatible, capable of working with old USB technology. It also allows those developers to build cross-platform SDKs for their devices using JavaScript. According to the WebUSB developers, “This will be good for the web because, instead of waiting for a new kind of device to be popular enough for browsers to provide a specific API, new and innovative hardware can be built for the web from day one.”

 

Of course, as with anything connected to the internet, there are security concerns, and as a result, the WebUSB API uses the CORS (Cross-Origin Resource Sharing) system, which prevents webpage resources from requesting data from other sites, apart from the web page the device initiated. Although the system is aimed to limit direct access to peripherals, it’s not entirely secure, as hackers can write malicious code to access your system through the WebUSB API and view any device’s serial numbers and other data. It’s recommended that manufacturers design their devices to only accept signed firmware updates and require physical access just to make configuration changes.

 

As far as where the WebUSB API is headed, the developers are looking into Shared and Service Worker scripts, which run in the background on browsers and acts like a middleman to authenticate users and allows access to features that don’t require a web page to function.

 

How could you use Internet accessible USB devices?

 

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