Soldiers can easily attach gear to their uniforms using magnetic squares that don’t snag or break like traditional connectors.

With the mag-Net soldier connector by TT Electronics, soldiers don’t have to wear as many wires or batteries.

The connectors, which are sewn into the uniform and attached to the piece of gear, feed off one battery source that the soldier carries on the back of his uniform. This means batteries can be removed from such devices as radios or lights.

A magnetic connector also means troops don’t have to be precise when putting their gear on.

“When you have soldiers who have to plug a radio in, they have to use two hands and look at it,” said Craig Webb, director of sales in North America for the company. “With the magnet, because it sucks in, you just have to get it close and it latches in and it’s secure.”

The magnet won’t pop off if it’s hit, however. The soldier must press it in and up to remove it.

Traditional connectors must be screwed on and present snagging hazards. (Charlsy Panzino/Staff)
Traditional connectors must be screwed on and present snagging hazards. (Charlsy Panzino/Staff)

“When we actually sat down with soldiers, two things they care about was ease of use and that it’s just gotta work,” product specialist Leigh Chapman said.

The problem with previous connectors, Chapman said, was that they all protruded from the vest.

“They were snag hazards, and soldiers hate snag hazards,” he said. “They also deform really easily. If it catches on a rock, it actually breaks.”

The mag-Net connectors, however, are flat against the uniform so they can’t snag on anything and there are no moving parts.

A wipe of the thumb cleans the magnets, Chapman said, and small pieces of dirt can be picked out.

The connectors can handle being submerged for an hour in up to 3 meters of water, he said.

BAE Systems is using the mag-Net connector system for its Broadsword Spine, an electronic textile device that lets soldiers plug devices straight into their vest, jacket or belt.