Space Saving Molex Connectors

With manufacturing processes and semiconductor materials going through new developments at break-neck speeds, we now have a proliferation of increasingly smaller sensors, devices, and processors. However, some areas are still facing hindrances in technological advancements because of space limitations, thereby slowing down user adoption.

One such area is the AR/VR or augmented- and virtual reality applications. These technologies, typically AR, superimpose an image over a view of the user’s actual environment. A handheld device can accomplish this, such as a smartphone. Others can be user-worn glasses, headsets, or a projection such as heads-up displays in vehicles.

AR technology commonly includes offering information about the environment around the user, for gaming or for safety reasons. On the other hand, VR technology immerses the user in a virtual environment. That means, VR implementation typically requires the use of a headset, completely covering the user’s eyes, thereby blocking out the world around them.

However, the adoption of AR and VR has so far been limited, and these have remained relatively niche markets. The primary reason for this is their footprint. For instance, AR use requires wearing bulky glasses, lenses, or headwear, or, holding the smartphone up to view the AR environment. Wearing such heavy, unbecoming devices for any duration can be very uncomfortable.

For engineers, the size of connectors has been one of the biggest challenges when they try to limit the size of devices for embedded and wearable systems. Although semiconductor sizes have progressively reduced, communication devices have stayed the same. Therefore, even with custom cabling, the cable size and its corresponding connector are the factors limiting the system size.

For the success of AR and VR solutions, it is necessary for their form factor to be small, comfortable, and lightweight for the user. These technologies also demand significant processing power as well as high-quality displays. Meeting this demand requires design engineers to use connectors that offer not only robust communication capabilities, but also minimize the weight and footprint.

Molex is now offering a quad-row connector that meets the above needs. The package is significantly smaller than those available in the market while offering many connectivity options.

The quad-row connector from Molex offers its performance gains because of its staggered-circuit layout that offers a 30% space-saving over the design of its competitors. The quad-row connector achieves this as it positions its pins across four rows with a pitch of 0.175 mm. Such a staggered-circuit layout is a substantial space-saver in many applications involving wearable, smartphones, smartwatches, and AR and VR devices.

According to Molex, users can also have a soldering pitch of 0.35 mm in the quad-row connectors. This matches with the standard surface-mount technology processes. That means that as electronic devices gain popularity and size reduction, manufacturers can scale their products by shifting to the 0.175 mm soldering pitch. These connectors from Molex can also integrate into moving objects, and withstand drops, vibrations, and other harsh conditions of use. Molex builds its quad-row connectors with interior armor and insert-molded power nails, making them substantially reliable and robust. The connectors are available in 32- and 36-pin varieties, with 64-pin configurations for the future.