BARCELONA, Spain--Later this year, some people should be able to buy mobile phones you can take into the shower.
So forecast two companies specializing in waterproof coatings for electronics, HzO and Liquipel, that are showing off their technology here at the Mobile World Congress. There's a certain shock value to seeing high-end Apple and Samsung phones swimming in the drink, but if the companies get their way, you might be able to read an e-book in the bath fearlessly without having to put your iPad in a Ziploc bag first.
Phones with Liquipel coatings "should be on the market in eight months or sooner," said Liquipel President Danny McPhail.
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And from a few booths away, HzO Marketing Director Rick Peterson adds, "We're very optimistic it'll be alter this year."
Neither company will say which handset makers will use their coatings, but given how fatal a tour de toilet can be for a $600 mobile phone, it's not hard to imagine it'll be a desirable feature. And, one hopes, affordable.
"It's less than a cheap pair of earbuds," Peterson said.
Liquipel also is angling for partnerships with manufacturers, but in addition it coats people's products with a one-day turnaround for $59.
Ruggedness has been a big trend with cameras and camcorders, but mobile phones--carried everywhere and much harder to live without--are in some ways a better candidate for waterproofing.
Liquipel's McPhail said it take 30 minutes for its coating to be applied; Peterson says HzO's process takes 110 minutes, but it's got equipment that lets it be applied to 1,000 devices at a time.
"You have to do 5,000 a shift to keep up," Peterson said. McPhail said Liquipel can sustain production rates of 15,000 a day, too.
Service is tricky. Peterson said repair staff who replace components can use a spot treatment technique to maintain waterproofing even if components are switched out, though.