Based on CES 2013, manufacturers think we're all klutzes

One of the themes of this year’s CES is making products that protect your smartphone or tablet from… you

ces_chopping-600x450_0.jpgREUTERS/Steve Marcus
Finally! I can chop vegetables on my tablet without fear

I’ve been watching the announcements coming out of CES in Las Vegas this week. Of course, it’s been heavy on new TVs, new smartphones, new tablets and those sort of things. Lots of sexy stuff, of course, but not too much yet that’s gotten my heart to racing. But there’s been one trend that’s definitely gotten my attention because of what it says about how the corporate world thinks of us consumers.

Apparently, they think we’re a bunch of klutzes.

Have you noticed that there’s been quite an emphasis on products that will protect our devices from, well, us?

For example, waterproofing. Based on what I’ve seen this week, smartphone and tablet manufacturers seem to think we spend the majority of our time either underwater or near tubs, toilets, sinks, showers, oceans, lakes, rivers, seas or aqueducts. For example, you have Sony’s new Xperia Z smartphone, which can be submerged in up to a meter of water for 30 minutes. Then there’s Huawei’s new Ascend Mate which can also be doused in water (and can be operated with gloves on - perfect for texting while doing the dishes).

If you don’t want to buy a new water-resistant smartphone, you can make your current phone waterproof with a Seidio OBEX waterproof case (if you have an iPhone 5). Or treat your phone with HzO Waterblock technology, which, apparently, also makes it beer-proof. That should be a hit with college students and those of us who like to shower while listening to music or podcasts and drinking a shower beer.

But what about your tablet? More and more of us have them, which means, I guess, that more and more of us are likely to drop them in a toilet. So why not buy a LifeProof Nuud case for your iPad; it’ll protect it in up to 6.6 feet of water (which seems like an oddly specific number). Perfect for those family outings to anyplace with an above ground pool.

It’s not just water that manufacturers don’t trust us near with our devices - it’s also knives. If only I had a nickel for each time I’ve gone to make a salad and landed up ruining my Kindle by accidentally chopping vegetables on it, I’d be hobnobbing with Mark Zuckerberg. Fortunately, those days will be over soon for me, once I buy the Invisible Phone Guard (which can also be used on tablets). I guess if the material it’s made from is good enough for the Air Force and NASA, then it’s good enough for the devices I use to tweet about my lunch.

For those of us who like to keep our devices nearby when doing a little blacksmithing, light demolition or skydiving, there’s the newest version of Gorilla Glass. Or maybe a Panasonic Toughpad. Device manufacturers must think we’re all either Bear Grylls or Honey Boo Boo.

These companies must also be reading my mind, because how else would they know that, as much as I love my iPhone, the one thing I really wish I could do with it is fold it and put it in my wallet? Why else are Samsung (and others) pushing the flexible screen technology (Plastic Logic is also makes a flexible tablet, the Papertab)? Hmm, if we combine waterproof and flexible, could I roll up my smartphone and use it as a straw? That would be handy.

You get the point. I know there are plenty of people who have ruined their devices through drops and spills and such, and if they can be made water resistant and tougher without the price going sky high(er), then, fine. But, really, this all seems like a bit of overkill to me. I’ve had an iPhone for four years now and, despite many drops onto hard surfaces, the plastic cases I always keep them in have protected them just fine. Plus, I’m good not taking them with me when I go in the shower, the pool or swimming with dolphins.

However, there is one feature I’d like to see added to smartphones and tablets: hairspray-resistance. That one’s for my 13 year old daughter’s sake. Ask her for details.

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