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Connectors for the Internet of Things – Are You Ready?

Did your old car do what your new car can do?  How about your refrigerator? If you have purchased almost any piece of equipment over the last few years, from kitchen appliances to home entertainment, you will have experienced at first hand the explosion of features that even relatively mundane equipment now offers.

Members of the latest generation of consumers are classified as “digital natives” – they have grown up in the world of the internet and electronics.  They cannot remember when these things were rare or new.  To these digital natives, devices such as cellphones and home networks are simply tools – providers of solutions to their everyday needs.

Science Fact or Fiction?

To a previous generation, the idea of a refrigerator that was connected to the global communications network would have appeared bizarre – either something to laugh at or something to be worried about.  And yet in the modern world, the Internet of Things (IoT) has given us this and more.  Modern consumers think nothing of dictating their shopping lists to their car, or of being able to control their central heating from the train on the journey home.

Future consumers will continue to demand more.  There will always be the expectation of more features, not fewer, of more solutions and less effort.  The requirements placed on designers mean that more and more functionality must be packed into smaller and smaller devices. 

Lack of Standards

The task of designing the latest devices is not helped by the lack of guidance.  There is no single agency that sets the standard for IoT-enabled equipment, nor have the large manufacturers agreed upon a communications protocol.  This makes life difficult for small and medium manufacturers who do not have the influence to persuade others to utilise their methods.

The solution that many designers have adopted is modularity.  By providing features such as user interface or wireless connectivity as individual modules that can interface in different ways, designs can be flexible enough to respond to changes in consumer demand or adapt to regional differences in infrastructure.

Amongst the most important elements of modularity is interconnect.  By its very nature, this modular approach must rely upon connectors to provide the flexibility that is so important in the shifting marketplace.  Whilst designers are busy creating new and innovative solutions to the problem of more functionality in smaller spaces, it is important to remember to embrace the new generation of connectors that make these designs possible.

Connectors are Vital to Modularity

To make the most of modularity, it is vital that engineers view connectors just as critically as other components.  Connectors that 10 years ago would have appeared small and compact now dwarf the components on printed circuit boards.  In addition, products that previously would never be described as “smart” now boast their own electronics, packed with functionality.  This means that small connectors are being asked to work in environments and under conditions that their predecessors would not face. 

Global connector manufacturer Molex is creating the latest next generation of board-mounted connectors, designed to work at high data speeds, under harsh vibration conditions and in a broad range of temperatures.  Combined with high circuit count, fine contact pitch and a variety of mounting options, the Molex range is ready for the challenges of the Internet of Things. 

Are your designs ready? 

Join Us

Join us for a webinar on 24th January 2020 when DesignSpark will partner with Molex to learn about the challenges of selecting connectors for the next generation of electronic devices, and how you too can be ready.

Click here to register now

DesignSpark is an engineer and maker community from RS Components, we provide free CAD software, online resources and design support. Our flagship CAD software includes DesignSpark PCB, DesignSpark Mechanical and DesignSpark Electrical. Join our community at www.designspark.com/register

13 Dec 2019, 11:06