Never mind the iPad’s lack of USB and SDcard slots, how about a serial port? Our younger readers are now probably going like, “a serial what?”, but those of you that have been around for a while sure have fond memories of the romantic pre-USB era of computing when we connected peripherals like mice, keyboards and printers to our computers using the then ubiquitous nine-pin serial port. Well, a new accessory connects your modern-age iOS portable gear to old-school devices utilizing the serial interface. As you can see in the shot above, the $59 RS-232 serial cable has the iPod dock connector on one end and the male DB-9 connector on the other. Actually, we first spotted it at Macworld in January of last year.
The accessory is the result of collaboration between Redpark Product Development and Keyspan engineers behind the popular USB-Serial adapters for Macs. Because iOS doesn’t support the serial interface protocol, RS-232 peripherals don’t just work with existing apps. That’s why a Redpark serial communications library is available, helping developers write iOS apps that communicate with serial devices. This FAQ also states the cable does not work at this time with App Store apps out of the box. It might eventually, Redpark says, but it will “depend upon Apple policy”. With that in mind, the possibilities are seemingly endless….
Think about it, now developers can write iOS apps that talk to the gadgetry such as ham radios, dive computers, old-school point of sale devices, RFID readers, weather stations, satellite radios, model cars, Cisco routers – even hospital equipment, Lego mindstorms and uninteruptable power supplies – just about any device that uses a serial interface. More information on Redpark’s web site.