With each year that passes, technology shifts, new trends emerge, and outdated techniques fade away. Now that 2014 is here, let’s take a look back at the year we left behind. What were the connector trends in 2013? What changes were made in the connectors industry that will continue to evolve as we head into 2014? Let’s take a look.
First, we’re seeing an overall improvement in the efficiency of connectors. In order to meet specific requirements for various applications, connectors have become smaller, and lighter, and they are able to operate at higher speeds. Many products were upgraded rather than replaced, so we didn’t see many new connector families introduced.
Designers stretched the perceived limits of copper, upgrading high-speed copper I/O and backplane interconnects. We can expect more innovation with this material in the future. Meanwhile, optical alternatives to copper interconnects have been dropping in price and are expected to continue to drop on into 2014.
Other design engineers have been focused on power and the heat that results from power. Using high-conductivity materials and optimized contact geometries, the connectors used in high-current applications are really increasing their power ratings. However, to combat the resulting heat, we’re seeing minimized connector profiles and open housings that allow air to circulate.
With the popularity of sleek cell phones and tablets, we’re seeing much smaller I/O interconnects. With the little space that’s available on these products, you will usually find a micro-USB, a 3.5mm headphone jack, or Apple’s lightning connector. In the future, we can expect wireless technologies to further impact I/O panel space.
These connector trends of 2013 are just a few of the many ways we’ve seen connectors shift and reinvent themselves this past year. Advances in robotics, military and avionics applications, and automobiles have further influenced the industry. Looking ahead to 2014, we anticipate further innovation, as always, so that the electronic connector industry can shift with the rapid demands of the technological markets we serve.