Innovation can sometimes be an uncomfortable business. The history of invention is filled with examples of ideas that were dismissed at the time, and it is the measure of the inventor whether they can bounce back from rejection. From Alexander Graham Bell with his telephone to Thomas Edison with the electric light bulb, there is a distinguished group of famous names who struggled to be taken seriously.
There is something noble, or even romantic, about the idea of the lone inventor. The designer who works through the night with nothing but unshakeable confidence to see them through. But is there still a place for this kind of process?
Innovation can be especially uncomfortable in a risk-averse society. Creating the next big thing can be an expensive pastime, and the same history books which list Edison, Bell, and Watt also record some of those whose ideas failed. In today’s climate, large corporations need to be sure that they will receive a return on their investment before spending huge budgets on development.
This is true even in the field of electronics. In 1977, the year of Star Wars and the launch of the Apple II computer, a prediction was made. Ken Olson of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) suggested that no-one would want a computer in their home. In the space of the intervening 40 years, the growth of computing, electronics and communications has been nothing short of meteoric.
Sticking with the Familiar
And yet, while many aspects of electronics bear no resemblance to those of the 1970s, we are still using components that would be familiar to the designers of DEC. Pin headers and BNC connectors have been in service for decades, and are still trusted by engineers around the world. Perhaps this is because of their proven track record, but it could also be due to engineers’ reluctance to risk something new.
Despite this, there is constant innovation in the connector industry. The modern electronics market is making demands that traditional connector designs cannot meet. Whether greater density, higher speed or robust performance, manufacturers like Samtec are constantly developing new products to help engineers.
One of the barriers to adopting new technology is the unknown. Prototyping a new product can be a long and expensive process, and it takes courage to install a new, untested product. However, Samtec has developed a tool to take the guesswork out of new design.
The Samtec Channelyzer™
The Samtec Channelyzer™ is a fully-functioned simulator that allows engineers to study the performance of a connector in their own design. The tool allows the engineer to input the parameters of their device, along with their chosen connector and will produce a report that predicts performance long before a physical prototype ever needs to be made.
The Channelyzer will generate a simulated test report along with an overview including suggested strategies for improving performance. The tool is easy to use and is designed to provide the engineer with confidence when selecting a new connector.
Harsh Environment Performance
Another barrier to adopting a new connector is the requirement for reliability in tough conditions. A connector that provides tried and trusted performance is tricky to replace, especially if the new connector is unproven.
The Samtec Severe Environment Testing program (SET) has been developed to provide confidence in its new connectors. The SET program was created to test connectors under conditions beyond typical industry standards. In developing a series of procedures that test connectors in the harshest environments, Samtec can deliver confidence in its products, even before the first sample is installed.
Innovation can be Comfortable
Innovation can be scary. An engineer adopting new and unfamiliar products has to accept an element of the unknown. However, by using design tools like the Channelyzer and choosing products that have been subjected to Severe Environment Testing, the engineer can begin a new design in confidence.
It turns out that the cutting edge can be a comfortable place after all.