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Liquipel nanocoating adds invisible waterproof coating to mobile devices

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January 12, 2012

Liquipel is a nanocoating claimed to protect mobile devices from 'accidental water damage'

Liquipel is a nanocoating claimed to protect mobile devices from 'accidental water damage'

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We all know that water and mobile electronic devices aren't a good mix. But living on a world whose surface is around 70 percent water can sometimes make it hard to keep the two separate. While wrapping your device in a waterproof case will provide protection, they add bulk and can sometimes affect usability. California-based company Liquipel claims to have developed a hydrophobic nanocoating one thousand times thinner than a human hair that can be applied to a smartphone to protect it from accidental spills without affecting its functionality.

The Liquipel coating is applied to a mobile device inside a chamber that creates a vacuum into which the Liquipel vapor is introduced so that it permeates the entire device. Using a process the company says is "only found in the natural world on the surface of the Sun," the coating is bonded to the surface of the device at the molecular level, which means it should last for the life of the device. The chamber is then returned to atmospheric pressure and, voila, the device is now waterproof.

The company says Liquipel is invisible to the naked eye and won't affect the feel or performance of the device. Although it is a non-conductive coating, currents are still able to flow where there is a direct connection. So even though it reaches into all the device's nooks and crannies, you'll still be able to use headphones, charge the device, and access microUSB or SIM cards without any hassle. It's also won't damage the microphone or negatively affect the sound quality of the speakers. In fact, the company claims the coating will actually prevent the soft materials commonly used in speakers from breaking down from exposure to moisture.

Liquipel is currently only offered for a limited range of smartphones

If you're looking to put Liquipel to the test yourself, you'll need to send your device off to the company and shell out either US$59 for a standard treatment that will take a couple of days, $69 for a priority treatment for a quicker turnaround, or $79 for the inclusion of a protective film to provide protection from scratches. The list of compatible devices is currently limited to iPhone 3G/S, 4/S, HTC Evo 4G/Shift 4G, HTC MyTouch 4G, HTC Thunderbolt, Motorola Droid X/X2 and the Samsung Charge.

Liquipel points out that its coating is designed to protect from "accidental water damage" and shouldn't be seen as a green light to start swimming with your device. However, as the video below shows, the coating is capable of protecting a device from water damage after being completely submerged. The company's display at CES 2012 also had an iPhone 4 being drenched by a continually running showerhead.

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
9 Comments

The future is an interesting place with many things we will marvel at.

Gavin Keats
12th January, 2012 @ 11:41 pm PST

Looks like they coated the model in the photo with the same substance...

agulesin
13th January, 2012 @ 03:58 am PST

I think you will find these people are also-rans. A company called P2i Labs has been doing this successfully for a couple of years.

Mike Hallett
13th January, 2012 @ 07:45 am PST

NeverWet (http://www.neverwet.com/) is superior, and more versatile. This only goes on smartphones, NeverWet goes on...pretty much anything, and water will quite literally bounce off of NeverWet coated items.

Joel Detrow
15th January, 2012 @ 07:41 pm PST

Guess you won't be using headphone jacks any more.

Jimmy Fallin
16th January, 2012 @ 09:40 am PST

To Joel Detrow: While I agree NeverWet appears to be superior, I can't find where you can actually buy NeverWet. Do you have a source?

OpinionsR_Us
16th January, 2012 @ 01:59 pm PST

This looks like a really great strategy. I'm still trying to come to grips with something that is non-cunductive (so it doesn't short out the circuitry... even the high impedance bits) and will still operate headphones without rubbing off the protection. Maybe it does rub it off on the contact surface but that doesn't matter.

warren52nz
16th January, 2012 @ 02:50 pm PST

Does it seal the USB port as well? If so how will you ever recharge your phone?

Tiltrotortech
16th January, 2012 @ 10:47 pm PST

I have had my iPhone 4s treated for about 9 months now. I have come into contact with water two times, both resulting in Liquipel saving my phone. I do not have insurance on my phone, so in other words Liquipel has saved me 1800 dollars thus far.

CEOprodigyPROSPECT
21st December, 2012 @ 11:31 am PST
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