In our daily lives, we are never far from a connector. For every flick of a switch or push of a button, a connector is required and must do its job. Just like the modern automobile’s ability to get us from A to B, it’s something we take for granted. Not surprisingly, my 17-year-old has little interest in the role that Aptiv technology plays in the car she travels in.
But what does matter to her is that she can charge her phone on the move, update her SatNav app, listen to her choice of music, and rely on the vehicle to keep her secure all the way to her destination. And, ultimately, that is what Aptiv, and its connectors, are about – enabling features that enhance the experience for drivers and passengers alike.
Bold concepts need innovative connectors
From being nothing more than a simple means of transportation, today the expectation is increasingly for our vehicles to have a rich mix of features and services – information, entertainment and 24/7 connectivity – not to mention a host of intelligent systems designed to keep us safe and comfortable throughout the journey. What’s more, we are heading inexorably towards the day when we’ll have the freedom to choose whether to drive ourselves, or let autonomous technology take the wheel.
There’s no doubt we are living in exciting times with bold ideas and novel concepts continually redefining our understanding of what mobility means. Equally certain is that an array of new technologies is needed to enable this revolution, including smarter and more space-efficient connector systems.
The age of big data
So, what exactly is the significance of connectors to the new age of mobility? Such components have always been a fundamental requirement of any functioning vehicle. However, over the past few years, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of sophisticated electronic systems deployed within vehicles. As a result, the volumes of data that must be transmitted are rising exponentially.
Moreover, given the breakneck pace of development throughout the mobility sector, the trend is only set to accelerate in the years ahead. Inevitably, that means there is a pressing need for connection systems that can handle ever faster data transmission rates.
From dumb to smart
More functionality within the vehicle also means more connectors. But what we are looking at is not just a relentless increase in the number deployed. The fundamental nature of those connectors is changing too. Not so long ago, ‘dumb’ power connectors predominated. Today, the emphasis is very much on ‘smart’ technology, capable of supporting the unprecedented volumes of data that must be transmitted, in real-time, throughout the vehicle and, increasingly, with the wider world too.
While logic might suggest the emergence of wireless technologies will signal a decline in demand for physical connectors, in practice the opposite is true. New user features, such as wireless phone charging and the prospect of being able to use nothing more than a smartphone to unlock, configure and start our vehicles
are set to increase the need for connectors.
Out of sight, out of mind? The new generation of connectors we are creating may have to settle for being unsung heroes of the mobility revolution. However, one thing is certain. Without them, none of the ideas that do grab the headlines - from autonomous driving to on-demand mobility - could ever hope to become a reality.