New options to waterproof your smartphone?

Two companies offer process similar to electroplating to coat components in plastic

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"Water will just run through the machine," Liquipel president Danny McPhail told a reporter from the French news agency AFP at the show, as he dropped an iPhone into a tub of water. "It actually beads right on top of the circuit board and rolls off."

Liquipel's site touts the "worry free fun" of moisture-resisting electronics, but warns on almost every page describing the process that it's not foolproof, especially against complete or repeated dunkings.

Liquipel is a unique coating that is meant to protect your electronic device from damage resulting from accidental and incidental exposure to water. WE NEVER SUGGEST OR RECOMMEND THAT YOUR DEVICE MAY COME IN CONTACT WITH WATER OR ANY OTHER TYPE OF LIQUID. We do not warrant that the coating of your device will work perfectly or that it will work under all conditions. — Liquipel Terms of Use, Jan, 2012

Drawback: No DIY option

Unfortunately for consumers, the Liquipel "nanocoating" can't be applied at home.

It has to be applied at Liquipel using a process similar to electroplating or powdercoating.

Giving one of 11 approved types of devices the treatment starts with putting it in an airtight box. Liquipel then pumps out most of the air, then fills the box with gas saturated with nanocoating aerosolized into drops small enough to flow into the device itself to coat all the internal components, rather than remaining on the surface.

Once it's saturated and coated, Liquipel applies a secret process "found in the natural world only on the surface of the sun" (heat and/or electrical charges) to get the droplets of nanocoating to bond to the surfaces on which they settled.

Turn off the surface-of-the-sun treatment generator, pump out the nanocoat gas, pump the air up to normal pressure and the treatment is finished.

Understandably, considering how eager most people are to be without their phones for days while a company they don't know pumps in an undisclosed substance and exposes it to something cosmic and solar, Liquipel would prefer to make deals with phone manufacturers or carriers to treat phones before they ship to customers.

That was the focus of its efforts at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), but there is no word on whether it got any takers.

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