Electrons and copper cables are now officially old and busted and photons are taking over. You don't have to be scared, though, since Corning has made it a totally transparent process. The company's solution involves lasers (of course), but lasers that somehow won't cost you any more than a regular USB cable.
As good as USB is, it isn't lasers, so on a fundamental level (a level that's all about lasers), it sucks. USB also sucks because you can't run very long cables: after about 15 feet, the signal will vanish, as if spirited away by an occult hand. With one of Corning's new Optical Cables, you just plug your USB devices in like normal, and the signal gets belasered on one end, sent through a fiber optic cable, and then delasered on the other.
The cable itself can run for 100 feet (!), significantly besting USB, but it's also very flexible. Fiber optic cables have glass inside, and normally, if you try and do something like this the cable will just snap:
You can even tie it in a knot, thanks to Corning's proprietary glass formula.
One huge downside? The cable can't transmit power like most USB cables can. Yet what shouldn't be a big deal at all is the price, since Corning says that it "intends that you will not pay more" than you would for a regular old copper cable. Frankly, we're not sure how it'll be possible for Corning to make this happen, but we're going to hold the company to it nonetheless. Look for these cables in Q1 2013, which means soon.
Posted on location at CES 2013 in Las Vegas. All photos taken by Evan Ackerman for DVICE.