Sur­viv­ing a swim

A liq­uid re­pel­lent coat­ing for phones proves there is life af­ter a spill, writes Jen­nifer Dud­ley-Ni­chol­son

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Gadgets - LIQUIPEL TREAT­MENT

Liquipel, $99

AGAINST ev­ery rule of gad­getry, one Aus­tralian firm is telling users their phones can sur­vive a dip in a pool, a dunk in a toi­let or a desk-side spill.

But first the phone must be locked in a vac­uum, sprayed with a nano-tech­nol­ogy vapour and dried un­til the coat­ing is in­vis­i­ble.

The tech­nol­ogy is called Liquipel and it’s been brought to Aus­tralia by the Vita Group, own­ers of Fone Zone.

For $99, the com­pany will treat smart­phones, from Ap­ple iPhones to Sam­sung and HTC de­vices, with the spe­cial vapour that coats the de­vices inside and out, pro­tect­ing their work­ings from wa­ter dam­age.

Vita Group co-founder David McMa­hon says he dis­cov­ered Liquipel’s Cal­i­for­nian cre­ator at the Con­sumer Elec­tron­ics Show this year and brought the prod­uct to Aus­tralia af­ter see­ing too many phones lose bat­tles with wa­ter.

Drop­ping phones into toi­lets seems to be a com­mon story . . . that or hav­ing a phone in a top pocket and lean­ing over a pool,’’ McMa­hon says.

The (Liquipel) phone I’m us­ing is an iPhone 4S that has been un­der wa­ter 15 to 20 times in the past month.

I’ve been tempted to show off with mates on a Satur­day night and drop of beer.’’

A coat­ing ma­chine, based in Bris­bane, can treat up to 160 de­vices an hour.

McMa­hon says the ma­chine first sucks the air out of the room, cre­at­ing a vac­uum, sprays the liq­uid treat­ment in a vapour that coats the phones inside and out (en­ter­ing head­phone and charg­ing ports) and then dries as an in­vis­i­ble coat­ing.

The treat­ment can be added to ex­ist­ing phones sent to the com­pany, at Fone Zone and se­lected Tel­stra stores, or bought in a pre-treated de­vice.

With great trep­i­da­tion, Switched On tested a Liquipel­treated Sam­sung Galaxy S III de­vice. Spilling wa­ter on this

it in a jug fresh phone was nerver­ack­ing, but the wa­ter in­stantly formed a bead on the phone’s screen be­fore slip­ping off. The phone didn’t know whether to reg­is­ter this liq­uid as a touch, but showed no other ill-ef­fects.

Drop­ping phones into toi­lets seems to be a com­mon story

We then con­ducted dunk tests and the smart­phone strug­gled a lit­tle. Dunk­ing its bot­tom half made the phone freeze tem­po­rar­ily. Dunk­ing its top half con­vinced it that head­phones were con­nected, failed to de­liver an in­com­ing call and re­quired a re­boot. We had to shake wa­ter out of the phone’s sock­ets.

Within min­utes, the phone was able to make and take calls. It sur­vived and was also sur­pris­ingly clean.

Liquipel doesn’t en­cour­age dunk­ing your phone, how­ever. Warn­ings state it is only de­signed to guard against ‘‘ short-term, ac­ci­den­tal contact with wa­ter’’ and should not be seen as rea­son to take your phone swim­ming.

In the event your phone does drown, Liquipel will re­fund your $99 in­vest­ment and treat your next phone free.

Pro­tec­tive coat: Beads of wa­ter form on the phone’s sur­face.

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