Raise your hand if you’ve ever dropped your smartphone in the toilet. Don’t feel bad, according to Danny McPhail, president of Santa Anna, California-based startup Liquipel, that’s how 50 percent of smartphones meet a watery demise. For these and the other 50 percent who have had to fork over another few hundred dollars after being caught in the rain, pushed into a pool, or had beer knocked over onto their smartphones, McPhail and his company have a solution. Liquipel offers a nano-coating a thousand times thinner than a human hair that will make your new iPhone 4S water-resistant. The coating is so thin, they claim, that you won’t know the difference – in feel or function – from an untreated phone. Liquipel is actually playing it safe with the “resistant” qualifier. At least for the iPhones in the videos below, a complete dunking seems to be no problem at all. And the woman’s non-reaction to being splashed with water leads me to believe that she’s been treated as well.
The second video shows you how the coating process works. They put the phone into a chamber, create a vacuum, then pump in their special coating gas. The gas permeates the phone, inside and out, and the gas molecules bind through some magic process that only Liquipel is privy to. So water actually gets inside the phone, but beads up and harmlessly rolls of the circuit board, McPhail told the AFP at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas during a recent demonstration.
Liquipel’s main goal at the show was to cut a deal with manufacturers so that the coating treatment could be part of the manufacturing process. For now, the water-weary can send their smartphones to Liquipel and have it treated for $59, shipping not included. Right now the company has approved the coating for 11 different devices: the iPhone 3g and s, iPhone 4 and 4s, HTC Evo 4G, HTC Evo Shift 4G, HTC MyTouch 4G, HTC Thunderbolt, Motorola Droid X and X2, and Samsung Charge.
Necessity is the mother of invention. Perhaps water-proofing your smartphone doesn’t qualify as a necessity, but I personally know a few people for which the 59 bucks would have been a very smart investment.