In this rapidly expanding age of sensor technology and the internet of things (IoT), we’re reaching a point where the connectors themselves will serve, not only their main function, but will act as its own sensor to measure performance. Intelligent connectors are on the horizon.
So, why is Amphenol developing intelligent interconnects? Because Amphenol is passionate about advancing interconnect technology, and intelligent interconnects will enable enormous advancement of Military and Aerospace systems and platforms.
In my mind, there are two things that jump out to me that would make embedded systems and intelligent connectors useful in the Defense and Aerospace industries. Both require system level changes.Some current and new platforms are fitted with a number of sensors, and are collecting data all the time, but they have not figured out how to capitalize on the data. This is clearly something that needs to be addressed for us to succeed at selling intelligent connectors-- something needs to listen to them for them to become effective.
1. Beating brawn with brains: Intelligent power interconnect structures enhance power distribution while reducing system weight. Real time intelligent monitoring of temperatures of a power interconnect system will facilitate a departure from the historical de-rating of interconnect structures based on worst case scenarios that may or may not occur. A dumb or passive power interconnect structure needs to be overdesigned for the “what-if” scenario, but an intelligent structure can actively integrate real time data into the system.
2. Keep things moving: An intelligent interconnect can monitor key characteristics and this data can be used to intelligently guide the maintainer to the root cause of an interconnect issue. Ideally, it can guide them to take action prior to an interconnect issue. The intelligent interconnect sensor network can be coupled with an indicator system which takes any and all ambiguity out of rapidly finding the issue so repair can take place quickly. Ultimately, it could even repair itself.
Think about a human body, or any living multi-cellular entity to that point. Each cell is an independent living organism which lives in symbiosis with the other cells around it. The brain makes big decisions, but it does not tell each cell how to do its processes, how to replicate itself, or how to take on nutrients. It does all of these things without the brain telling it to do so.
Imagine if the brain had to tell every cell how to do all the things it needs to do to live and reproduce, as well as direct it to collaborate with other cells to accomplish other things? A lower level of intelligence at the cell level permits the brain to focus on higher level objectives. That is exactly what an intelligent interconnect structure could ultimately do as well. We’ve only just begun…