Roboden Elastic Cable - A Great Idea Finally at a Reasonable Price
Roboden, a unique stretchable cable with great potential for microphones, earphones, and headphones, expands up to 40% longer than its "at rest" length. Originally developed a decade ago for use in robotics and industrial machinery where cables need to glide around joints that pivot or extend, Roboden stretches and shrinks to fit as needed. The consumer electronics applications range from wall wart power supplies that won’t knock over your laptop, or send your smartphone flying when the cord is tripped over, to wearables without the cable flopping when you are moving around.
A few years back I wrote for the first time about this great development with major implications for audio applications and consumer electronics in general. Developed originally by Asahi Kasei of Japan, this braided wire cable stretches and shrinks to fit as needed. For several years now, I've been carrying samples and fully-functional "stretchable" cables to every trade show I attended, and every time the reactions are exactly what manufacturers wish they would have with every single product release: I want one!
Another appealing attribute of the Roboden cable construction is low microphonics, crucial in applications such as lapel (lavalier) microphones, in-ear-monitors and all types of earphones, minimizing bio-body noise reaching your ears. This will be especially appealing to cable designers because while braided sheaths look classier than extruded PVC and TPE outer insulations, woven jacketing tends to create and carry body vibration noise to the earphones.
The inside of this cable has an elastic core and wire is wound around in a spiral. A second stretchy sheath covers the entire thing. The unique Spandex/nylon fiber weave topology with a stretchy silicon “spine” effectively absorbs microphonics. The spiraled wire means there is enough inside the cable to allow it to act like a "Slinky". Sport fitness, electronic news gathering (ENG), or even a guitarist hopping around on stage could all benefit from Roboden elastic cables.
Unfortunately, the path to market has been a long haul. Japanese giant Asahi Kasei (you may know the name because of the famous AKM converters) spent years developing Roboden and while the product functionality was fabulous, so was the pricing - well beyond the reach of even premium consumer products! Now Asahi Kasei’s cable subcontractor, Hightek, has licensed the technology. Hightek is a Taiwan public company that is an OEM cable vendor to Sony, Acer, HP, Dell, Asus, and others, with about 20% of the global in-box cable business. With the company's streamlined supply chain, there is now a stretching signal cable that is in the BOM range of quality consumer electronics products.