Since returning from the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show the question we’ve been asked most is: What was the coolest thing you saw?
After some contemplation, we’ve settled on our answer: Liquipel. It’s a nanotechnology service that waterproofs electronic gadgets without adding any weight to a device or any altering it in any discernible way.
Futurists have long recognized the potential of nanotechnology—the study of manipulating matter on an atomic or molecular level—to revolutionize products we use in our daily lives. Spot Cool Stuff believes that one day it will. But we’ve seen little evidence that day will arrive soon. In fact, Liquipel might be the most compelling use of nanotech we’ve seen in an everyday consumer item.
It works like this: Liquipel places your device in one of it’s special chambers for around 40 minutes. During that time the Liquipel solution covers the entire exterior device and interior electronics with a water repelling nano-layer1.
The Liquipel coating is odorless and 1000 times thinner than a human hair. Compare a Liquipelified iPhone with a regular one and you won’t notice any difference. At least not until you submerge them in water. Drop the Liquipel-coated iPhone in a full sink and it will still work when you lift it out. The regular iPhone, probably not so much.
This does not mean you can use a Liquipel iPhone to take underwater photos. For that, you’ll still need a waterproof iPhone case. An iPhone treated with Liquipel has an Ingress Protection Rating of IPX-7, which means it can spend up to 30 minutes submerged in 1 meter (3.3 feet) of water. That doesn’t technically qualify as “waterproof,” but it is sufficient protection for an iPhone that’s, say, dropped in a toilet or left outside in the rain.
And because the Liquipel coating bonds with a device on a molecular level, it will never rub off.
The downside of Liquipel? Unless you live close to the company’s Santa Ana, California headquarters you’ll have to mail in your gadget to get it Liquipelified. And at $60 per device (plus an optional $10 rush fee) the service is a little on the pricey side. But then that’s cheaper than having to replace an iPhone.
At the moment the company is only waterproofing the Apple iPhone, Motorola Droid, Samsung Charge and four HTC smartphone models. The Liquipel coating can bond to nearly any mobile device. (At CES, we even saw a tissue that was treated with Liquipel—you could dunk it in water and it remain bone dry). So we hope for the day mobile electronic devices will routinely be sold with Liquipel already applied.
1 Applying Liquipel to a device will not void Apple’s warranty. The same is generally true for other manufacturers too.