CES 2012: Want all your mobile gear to be waterproof? HzO can do it

Summary:If you knew that your smartphone was waterproof from the inside out, would it change the way you think about using your phone? HzO has a nanotechnology that solves the water problem for mobile gear.

I have written reviews of ZAGG products here on ZDNet and have purchased many of them for my own use so I wanted to meet with them at CES 2012 last week. While in their booth on the show floor I had the chance to see some amazing technology from one of their partners that could change the way you think about caring for your phones, tablets, laptops, watches, and more. This amazing technology comes from HzO and has generated such excitement that the distribution model has changed where manufacturers are thinking of using it during the initial production process.

ZAGG acquired the major rights to HzO's WaterBlock technology and spun off HzO into a private company thinking they would buy a supply of different devices, have HzO waterproof them with their technology, and then sell these waterproof devices to consumers directly. However, this retail plan was scratched after device manufacturers saw the technology and how it was applied so that now HzO is in discussions with various manufacturers to integrate the process at the manufacturing stage and sell devices that are completely waterproof. ZAGG is still a major investor in the company and given their protection products is a good fit for marketing the technology.

HzO's WaterBlock technology is a nano level seal application that is applied through a vacuum deposition process that can be applied after the device is built. However, the process is easier to perform at the manufacturing level before outer shells are added. By using a sealed chamber and vacuum with their proprietary non-toxic, organic gas they are able to ensure everything is sealed with their film. I was amazed at how all the devices tested were able to keep working with no affect on them being submerged in water. A Galaxy S II even showed water under the display so you knew water was getting into the internals, but it still worked just fine. The HzO representatives were telling me that manufacturers considering their product are also now thinking of ways to keep water out of areas given that they can be safely submerged.

I asked about areas like the headphone jack where it would seem that the film could get rubbed off with regular insertion and removal of a headphone jack. They said that the coating inside the jack may be rubbed off, but that the WaterBlock material also coated the other side, internal, of the headphone jack assembly so it would all still remain waterproof and be just fine. Keep in mind that this technology is designed for unplanned submergence and is not designed for you to go swimming or snorkeling with your gear.

While smartphones were mostly shown off at CES, I can see this being a technology for the Fitbit, watches, cameras, and lots of other mobile gear that may be dropped in water or used in the rain or high humidity situations. As a professional naval architect who visits ships regularly I would love to have my gear protected from accidental drops in the bilges.

Topics: Mobility

About

Matthew Miller started using a mobile devices in 1997 and has been writing news, reviews, and opinion pieces ever since. He is a co-host with GigaOM's Kevin Tofel on the MobileTechRoundup podcast and an author of three Wiley Companion series books. Matthew started using mobile devices with a US Robotics Pilot 1000 and has owned over 200 d... Full Bio

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