CES 2012: Liquipel claims to get the drop on water


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Ever watch in slow-motion horror as your pricey smartphone leaves your hand too quickly and drops into water? Or maybe you forgot to take it out of your pocket after a workout or workday. The stories of toilet tragedies are myriad.

But, according to a Santa Ana start-up company at CES in Las Vegas, it doesn’t mean your phone has to go down the drain. And maybe you can save the rice for dinner instead of for trying to save your phone.


With an iPhone sitting in a cylinder of cascading water, representatives from Liquipel were showing off their patent-pending coating that provides invisible armor against accidental water exposure at Start-up Debut at the Consumer Electronics Show.

This doesn’t mean you can take you iPhone in the pool with you, but it might be a little more safe sitting on a towel nearby.

They were dunking iPhones nonstop. But for some reason, the tissue demonstration is the one that got my attention. (Although dropping an iPhone into water without warning is dramatic, the tissue example is more tangible.) Two dry tissues -- one treated with Liquipel -- are placed into a dish of water. You quickly see the difference.

They pushed it in the water, poured water on it. The thing refused to get wet. When you touch it, you feel that the treated tissue is just as nose-friendly as it should be.

I got some video of the demo. (Sorry, it’s a little dark. The mood lighting in the Foundation Room might be conducive to meaningless connections, but it’s a tad challenging when you’re really trying to get to know the score.)

Danny McPhail, co-president of Liquipel, says the coating will outlast your phone. It permanently bonds with your device on a molecular level.


The company is ‘talking with manufacturers,’ according to McPhail. I asked whether the fact that the demo was exclusively with iPhones was any indication of where we might see the first treated phones for sale, but there was no confirmation.

While we have to wait to see which phones come packaged with it,the average clumsy consumer can have his or her phone treated for $59. The only challenge for the perpetually connected is that you have to give up your phone for a couple of days for treatment. I had to take oxygen because my phone was out for a few hours. They do offer a priority service for $10 more.

The Liquipel site lists 11 different kinds of phones (Apple iPhone 3G through 4S; HTC Evo 4G, Shift 4G, MyTouch 4G and Thunderbolt; Motorola Droid X and X2; and Samsung Charge) that can be treated with the vapor.

Frankly, it’d be great to not feel as if your phone might melt, like that green gal from Oz.


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-- Michelle Maltais in Las Vegas