The dark side of waterproofing tech

At the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Vegas there were at least 2 vendors showcasing their new waterproofing technology for electronic devices, HzO and Liquipel are two names that come to mind. Both offer similar approaches to an ongoing problem, how to protect our smartphones and tablets from damage resulting from accidental exposure to water. Based on nano-technology, the products are designed to create an invisible coating that protects electronics from water damage without affecting screens and connectors. The HzO product will be available to manufacturers so that they can incorporate the technology into the device, at the factory. The Liquipel product is targeting consumers directly and will allow people to send their devices in for treatment and will process and return with 1 to 2 business days.

When I first read about the innovation, my first thought was a big woohoo! At last I can now protect my beloved smartphone from my careless blunders. During the Christmas holidays I in fact got my BlackBerry wet and was without it for 2 days waiting for it to be dried and revived. Fortunately it did come back to life, but that isn’t the story with every exposure to water.

So I think we can agree that waterproofing devices is a good thing, so how can there be a dark side?

I would venture to say that our much loved gadgets are used everywhere now, except one location, the shower. The shower is the one bastion of humanity where technology has not yet invaded. At the change room where I clean-up after cycling to work, the last thing many do before showering and the first thing they do after, is check their smartphones. Now the shower stall, or bathtub for that matter, is no longer a safe haven from portable electronics. With my smartphone waterproofed, why not take it into the shower with me?

So what implications are there for texting while showering? There are several. When your manager calls, you will now sound as though you’re in a boat at the base of Niagara Falls. Highly unprofessional. Instead of minimizing how long you’re submersed and therefore how much water you’re consuming, you might just decide to go on and on, until the hot water supply is exhausted. Not good for the environment. And finally, in moment of carelessness, while texting, you may slip while entering or exiting the shower, smash your melon, and end up in the hospital. Very expensive.

So as you can see, there is a dark side to waterproofing technology. Perhaps the vendors should put a warning label on your smartphone “Do not operate while showering”. Warnings aside, I can’t wait to get a waterproof smartphone.

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