Connectors for Wearable Applications Product Roundup

By AJ Born | May 03, 2022

This week’s Product Roundup highlights connectors used in wearables from leading suppliers.

Connectors for Wearable Applications  

Omnetics Connector Corp. offers a wide range of circular connector body typesOmnetics Connector Corp. offers a wide range of circular connector body types, from overmolded breakaway cable connectors to full metal shielded cable and connectors with threaded latch, quick-turn latch, and breakaway metal shells to suit the needs of various applications. Omnetics’ overmolded breakaway nano circular connector is designed to handle video surveillance signals between a soldier’s pack and helmet. The 28-pin right-angle nano-metal shell breakaway connector goes from the communication box in a helicopter to the pilot. The micro circular line is similar, except with the emergence of hybrid signal requirements. More and more micro circular connectors are chosen because they match the round cable shape and offer cable flexibility to military on the move, These connectors also combine power and signal management in the same connector.  


Snaptac connectors from Smiths InterconnectSnaptac connectors from Smiths Interconnect combine robust environmental performance with compact size and light weight, which makes them ideal for lightweight, compact, wearable EMI shielded electronic systems. They are suitable for communication and identification/recognition applications, and other critical tasks. These MIL-Spec type, quick-release miniature connectors feature IP67 sealing and EMI shielding. Snaptac connectors are available in both circular (7, 13, 19 ways) and rectangular (12, 21, 30 ways) versions equipped with Hyperspring contacts, and protect the electrical interface against extreme environmental conditions. 


Amphenol Communications Solutions’ 103 series are 0.35 mm pitch micro board-to-board connectorsAmphenol Communications Solutions’ 103 series are 0.35 mm pitch micro board-to-board connectors designed for high-density applications. They support extreme low-profile (0.60 mm) stack height and high current ratings (up to 5A). These connectors are offered in 4 to 60 positions and meet USB 3.1 Gen 2 signal transmission rates. They are used in consumer wearable devices, such as smart watches, VR headsets, smart glasses, and e-wallets, and in medical devices such as hearing aids, wireless EEG headsets, and remote patient monitoring devices. They feature a low-profile connector design with fine pitch, high current rating (up to 5A), and double contact points to ensure enhanced contact stability. 


Hirose Electric’s BK13C SeriesHirose Electric’s BK13C Series is a hybrid flexible printed circuit (FPC)-to-board connector that offers significant space savings and high power capability. The low-profile BK13C Series has a pitch of only 0.35 mm, stacking height of 0.6 mm, and width of 1.9 mm, enabling OEMs to reduce the size and cost of portable and wearable electronic devices. The hybrid BK13C Series’ power contacts support up to 5 A, while the signal contacts support 0.3 A. Featuring a rugged molded housing covered by a metal shell, the BK13C Series’ fully armored design prevents housing damage when mating. The connector design effectively uses end spacing to expand the self-alignment range when mating. Easy mating is achieved via a wide self-alignment range of ±0.22 mm in the pitch direction and ±0.3 mm in the width direction. The insert molded header and receptacle eliminate gaps between the terminals and housing, preventing solder wicking. The hybrid BK13C Series connector is used for wearable devices like earbuds, smart watches, and smart glasses, as well as portable devices like audio players, cameras, laptops, and gaming consoles.  


Fischer LP360 connector from the Fischer Freedom SeriesThe rugged, low-profile Fischer LP360 connector from the Fischer Freedom Series is a miniaturized active device, a fastening mechanism, and an electrical signal and power connection all in one. Its multiple configuration options form a versatile technology platform that serves as a network enabler for wearables and connected ecosystems in the Internet of Things and of Humans (IoT/IoH). Its award-winning plug-and-use technology benefits both engineers and end-users. The panel plug can be easily extended to multifunctional wearables such as biometric sensors, communication systems, GPS, lighting, and bodycams. These can be snapped quickly and easily onto the cabled receptacle, which is integrated into flexible structures such as ready-to-use smart personal protective equipment (PPE) vests. Since the connector has no key code and offers 360° mating, it can be plugged in any position, optimizing cable routing and power management. Contacts are sealed with a membrane, ensuring that the connector is fully cleanable. The low-profile design enables easy integration into any application, such as smart work vests. The metal version with seven and four signal and power contacts is IP68 sealed and endures up to 10,000 mating cycles. Made of high-end composite based on PEEK, the plastic version is IP67-sealed (mated and unmated) and endures up to 5,000 mating cycles. It is up to 70% lighter than the connector in metal. The Fischer Freedom Series comprises a Quick Detach System and electronic devices such as USB 2.0 adapters, LEDs, and rugged flash drives offering similarly easy mating, cleaning, and integration. 


ICC supplies STAR-PAN, Glenair’s integrated soldier multiport USB data hub/wearable power distribution systems and tactical connectors

ICC supplies STAR-PAN, Glenair’s integrated soldier multiport USB data hub/wearable power distribution systems and tactical connectors.This wearable connector system provides network data access, peripheral connectivity, and smart battery power management for dismounted soldier C4ISR electronics in digitally aided close air support (DACAS) missions. STAR-PAN offers precision targeting, tactical radio communications, real-time video downlink, night vision technologies, GPS/navigation, blue force tracking, personal computing, and smart phone integration. 


The Warrior-Lok series from Amphenol AerospaceThe Warrior-Lok series from Amphenol Aerospace is the first locking receptacle connector for the Nett Warrior program and other soldier-worn applications. The receptacle features an integrated locking mechanism to prevent accidental unmating. Warrior-Lok provides a tactile and audible full mate indicator. As an added benefit, the locking mechanism helps to drastically reduce the force required to mate and unmate while providing a more secure connection; simply push to connect and pull on the operating sleeve to disconnect. It works with a gloved hand and the operating sleeve can be customized for various applications, including the addition of a lanyard.  


5811 Series Board-to-Board connector from KYOCERA AVXThe 5811 Series Board-to-Board connector from KYOCERA AVX is optimized for wearables and other small devices. It is miniaturized to 1.7 mm in width. It maintains durability by adopting a flat stacking structure, which enables workability when stacking, and reduction of damage, despite its low 0.6 mm stack height. In addition, it is also resistant to the high current required for connectors, which makes it suitable for battery connection. To meet customer demands for wearable devices, the 5811 series can accommodate one to five signal pins and two power pins. 


Part of the MKJ family of miniature circular connectors, ITT Cannon’s MKJ Warrior Series

Part of the MKJ family of miniature circular connectors, ITT Cannon’s MKJ Warrior Series for soldier-worn applications offers a reliable interconnect solution that enable critical communication, navigation, and USB data and power. The MKJ Warrior Series provides a robust breakaway coupling system, designed per the US Nett Warrior specification and qualified to the European GOSSRA standard. (The series is GOSSRA qualified with Nett Warrior qualification pending.) The MKJ series features a robust coupling mechanism with Cannon Breakaway, a canted retention spring system, as well as a “first-mate-last-break” ground pin. 


PEI-Genesis supplies Amphenol’s 2M series micro-miniature connectorsPEI-Genesis supplies Amphenol’s 2M series micro-miniature connectors used in headsets and tactical equipment. These lightweight circular connectors meet D38999 specs for vibration and shielding but weigh 72% less and are 52% smaller than standard D38999s. A variety of quick-mating styles are available to meet different electrical and mechanical requirements. The 2M series is intermateable with Glenair Mighty Mouse connectors for seamless transition to the higher performance Amphenol 2M connectors.  


RK01 Series Connector from JAEThe RK01 Series Connector from JAE was launched amid expectations for the use of smart textiles in health care, home monitoring, and sports. This connector is washable in a home washing machine (when the transmitter is detached). Its proprietary contact structure allows for multiple circuits to be attached and detached in one action. The RK01 is highly versatile, supporting a wide variety of conductive materials and pin counts. It is waterproof when the transmitter is mated.


Learn more about connectors that impact everyday lives here and here. 

Like this article? Check out our other Product RoundupProduct News, and Connector Industry News features and our 2022 Article Archives.

To learn more about the companies mentioned in this article, visit the Preferred Supplier pages for Smiths Interconnect, AirBorn, Amphenol Communications Solutions, Cinch Connectivity Solutions, CDM Electronics Inc., ept, , JPC Connectivity, KYOCERA AVX, TE Connectivity, and Samtec Inc.

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AJ Born
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