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Four Trends Defining the Future of Connectivity

Molex has released a report outlining several key areas that will shape the future of interconnections

Spencer Chin

September 18, 2023

3 Min Read
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Molex sees several key trends defining the future of connectivity.Molex

Interconnects have in recent years gained much more attention as the need to preserve signal integrity over higher speeds has become more important.  Previously seen as some as a “weak link” in the electronics signal chain, interconnects are benefitting from an infusion of high tech through materials and designs that better handle high-speed signals. And in some cases, interconnections don’t necessarily imply the use of traditional metal contacts.

More important, connectors are playing an important role in many next-generation products. These include RF systems, electric and autonomous vehicles, smart homes, and hyperscale data centers for applications such as AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning.

According to Molex, here are four key trends shaping the future of connectivity.

Connectivity Without Contacts:

Here’s where things get interesting. Contactless connectors use miniaturized radio frequency (RF) transceivers and receivers to enable devices to communicate and exchange data without requiring physical contact between them. The absence of physical, metal-to-metal contacts make it possible to support much higher data rates than previously possible with existing wireless protocols, such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Contactless connectors provide reliability and durability advantages over physical, metal-to-metal contacts make contactless connectors ideal for video displays, harsh environments, sleek and light consumer electronics, as well as industrial robotics. Asides from reliability, contactless connectors enable engineers to save space and design thinner product profiles.

Contactless connectors allow product designers to remove the diagnostic ports on wirelessly charged devices, reducing development and production costs. Additionally, the removal of the port allows for an even tighter seal, reducing the costs associated with product returns and support resulting from ingress. Molex gives one example of contactless connectors as gigabit Ethernet connectors in industrial applications, where the presence of moisture, water, and oil make the elimination of traditional mechanical connectors desirable.

Vehicle Antennas

Ongoing developments in antennas, sensors and connectors are enabling vehicle-to-everything (V2X) capabilities. Future vehicles will have multiple antennas, for connecting Bluetooth, satellites, wireless networks, and other providers. Close collaboration with automakers and suppliers is essential to defining optimal antenna placement and performance. Additionally, advancements in non-conductive materials will allow future connected vehicles to incorporate seamless designs without sacrificing connectivity to satellites, Wi-Fi networks and other systems. Also, future antennas will be located in various vehicle locations, not just on the roof but on the front of the vehicle, within bumpers, and other areas.

 Embarking on a journey toward fully connected vehicles, 5.9 GHz V2X antennas play a pivotal role in enabling seamless communication between vehicles and infrastructure. Molex sees low- to high-bandwidth messaging taking the driving experience to the next level.

Powering the Smart Home

The Smart Home of the Future will combine Internet of Things (IoT) functionality with battery storage systems to ensure greater control and visibility over energy production and usage. Innovations in energy management, such as mini-inverters for solar panels and smart battery management systems, will improve energy-usage efficiency and control. These storage systems are expected to play a crucial role in the intelligent monitoring and routing of power where it’s needed most.T

The Smart Home will rely on products and systems such as solar panels, advanced energy management systems, EV chargers, power inverters, home security and surveillance systems, connected lighting systems, voice-activated virtual assistants, smart thermostats, smart appliances, and more.

Hyperscale Hubs

Hyperscale data centers built on 224G system architectures will enable Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help consumers optimize energy consumption while empowering businesses to keep pace with relentless requirements for real-time data processing. The rapid adoption of generative AI is forcing hyperscale data centers to evolve, prompting connector suppliers such as Molex to pioneer 224 Gbps-PAM4 architecture.

These hubs will serve as a centralized hub for connectivity and usher dramatic changes. These data centers will enable AI to help homeowners optimize their energy consumption and serve as the backbone for the future of transportation-as-a-service, ushering in a new era of intelligent and efficient transportation systems.

About the Author(s)

Spencer Chin

Senior Editor, Design News

Spencer Chin is a Senior Editor with Design News, covering the electronics beat.

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