HzO demos cell phone water-proofing product (w/ video)

Nov 16, 2011 by Bob Yirka report

(PhysOrg.com) -- A company called HzO has unveiled what it calls an invisible vapor coating for electronic and other devices to prevent water damage, this week at the New York Press Preview prior to the annual CES show in Las Vegas in January. The demo showed a smartphone being dropped into a bowl of water and receiving a call while still submerged. After retrieval from the water, the phone appears to work as normal. The company says its product doesn’t seal the case of the phone, but the electronics inside.

At the demo, company President and CEO Paul S. Clayson explained that the company employs a “nano-scale film barrier,” that according to an official video put out by the company, covers all the “nooks and crannies” that occur inside (and out presumably) of virtually any device. To that effect, a treated business card was also dropped into the water and survived without soaking up so much as a drop.

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At this time it appears the name of the product and the name of the company are one and the same, i.e. HzO. The company says it has formed an alliance with Zagg, a company that currently makes protective electronic skins to ward off scratches and other damage to Smartphones, iPhones, etc. to market the first devices treated with the new technology.

The whole idea, the company says, is to protect consumers from the device killing attributes of water. On their website , they say that millions of cell phones are killed every year due to spillage or phones being dropped into water (mainly into toilets by men presumably).

Also, the company says their product coats at the molecular or nanoscale level which means it should be virtually invisible (thus it won’t distort the display) and perhaps can’t be felt either. More will be known when January rolls around and consumers get the chance to get their hands on a treated device at .

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At this point, it appears that the product would have to be applied by the manufacturer, seeing as how the company says that does indeed penetrate the device, it just isn’t allowed to cause any havoc once in there. Also unclear is just how such devices are actually treated, (an official company video calls it a “unique technology process”) though it appears that it is sprayed on. Common sense would say that the individual parts of the phone are sprayed, both inside and out, and then the device is assembled. Though clearly in this case the phone was disassembled by HzO (since they don’t manufacture the Galaxy S II used in the demo) sprayed, then reassembled, which might mean a new niche market is about to emerge if the new product works as well as advertised.

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User comments : 8

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CHollman82
1 / 5 (6) Nov 16, 2011
That sounds fantastic... I can't believe they are focusing on cell phones though as this technology would seem to apply to any electronics, the potential is huge.
struman
not rated yet Nov 16, 2011
@CHollman82, I agree my step-son is deaf in both ears and has cochlear implants that allows him to hear, the only bad thing about it is that he isn't able to use them around water!
axemaster
2.3 / 5 (3) Nov 16, 2011
This would be fantastic if it works, however I think the biggest potential problem would be if the coating causes electronic to heat up more. It would also have to be stable at high temperatures to survive for example a graphics card.
gwrede
not rated yet Nov 16, 2011
If this works, it'll change the world.

Old readers remember when we had mechanical wristwatches, before when Timex came out with a really durable watch. You had to take off your watch before any hard work, and an unprotected walk in the rain finished the watch.

Those times are so far away it seems almost untrue. And with this, a few years from now, nobody remembers how bringing the phone to the pool or the beach or the boat felt like asking for disaster.
Nerdyguy
5 / 5 (1) Nov 16, 2011
That sounds fantastic... I can't believe they are focusing on cell phones though as this technology would seem to apply to any electronics, the potential is huge.


From the HzO company website (link above):

"Consumer Electronics Are Just The Beginning

Every year, over one million phones are damaged by water. That's why we have decided to start our fight against moisture damage with consumer electronics
like phones and mp3 players. However, HzO can be applied to almost any surface to provide protection against water, weather, and corrosion. The possibilities are endless. A few of the many potential applications for HzO protection include electronics, textiles, and automotive. "

This stuff sounds uber-cool. Sometimes tech comes along and actually fills a need that, while not important in the great scheme of things, is going to affect a whole lot of people. Hope this works.
DGBEACH
not rated yet Nov 17, 2011
"Conformal coating" has been used in the electronics industry to protect circuits for decades, on so-called "ruggedized" devices. The only reason it isn't used on cell phones is because of the added assembly costs involved, thus why they've chosen to showcase their product on them.
The driving forces behind ANY decisions will be cost and the product's effects on sensitive rf circuitry.
I for one would welcome a "ruggedized" cell phone becoming the norm.
Nerdyguy
not rated yet Nov 17, 2011
"Conformal coating" has been used in the electronics industry to protect circuits for decades, on so-called "ruggedized" devices. The only reason it isn't used on cell phones is because of the added assembly costs involved, thus why they've chosen to showcase their product on them.
The driving forces behind ANY decisions will be cost and the product's effects on sensitive rf circuitry.
I for one would welcome a "ruggedized" cell phone becoming the norm.


Yes, there have been similar solutions. This one looks to be an order of magnitude more efficient. "Virtually invisible" so it "won't distort the display" seems to me to be unprecedented.
Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Nov 17, 2011
Problem is, how do they seal the connectors, the SIM sockets, memory card slots, charger ports, battery tabs, key switches etc. that need to conduct electricity and make and break contact.

Seems to me that if you left the phone underwater, or failed to remove the water thoroughly after taking it out, it would still corrode horribly and be rendered useless after a while, unless everything was wired permanently in and then sealed with the substance, and you'd have no physical keys or switches on the device.

The real trick in the video is that the water is de-ionized so it won't cause any troubles regardless of the fact that it gets in to the electronics. It conducts so little electricity that it's not a problem, unlike tap water which would start a galvanic reaction between the battery terminals.