A company named HzO is claiming waterproof smartphones could be on the way this summer, and will be the norm in a couple of years.
The company says its solution, WaterBlock, works differently than current techniques. Instead of merely waterproofing the exterior of the phone, it uses a “nanotechnology” coating on the interior, covering individual components.
The company says it’s keeping the precise make-up of the material secret, but says it is non-toxic and suitable for consumer devices. It’s applied by putting the device into a sealed chamber and drawing out all gases, then adding “an organic gas” into the chamber that then solidifies on the internal surfaces of the device, forming a protective film. This film, which is said to make no detectable difference to the weight, repels water. It allows heat to pass through, meaning the device shouldn’t get any hotter than normal.
HzO says the protection is not designed for intentional underwater use such as diving, but says it should work in even some extreme accidents such as mistakenly jumping in a pool with the device in your pocket, or leaving it in the pocket of clothes that go through a laundry cycle.
According to the company, the technology was designed after a student fell into the Mississippi and was eventually crushed between a barge and a lock gate, having been unable to use either a cell phone or a handheld radio that he was carrying because they’d been rendered useless by the water.
The company made a high-profile bid to break into the smartphone market with a demonstration booth at the Consumer Electronics Show, dunking treated handsets including an iPhone into a fish tank.