Will the iPhone get an anti-toilet feature?

New technology from Zagg promises to keep phones safe even after they get dunked.

By Benzinga May 10, 2012 11:00PM

Image: Life ring (© Gary S Chapman/Photographers Choice RF/Getty Images)By Louis Bedigian, Benzinga Staff Writer


Apple's (AAPL) next iPhone might have a special feature that guarantees it doesn't need to be replaced the next time you drop it in the toilet.


Believe or not, toilets have eaten a large number of smartphones. And if it isn't a toilet that destroys your prized device, it could be the bottle of beer that your friend spilled or the pool you dropped it in before taking a swim. Any amount of liquid -- water or otherwise -- could prove to be detrimental to your phone.


But new technology exists that would allow smartphone makers to waterproof their phones. When Zagg (ZAGG) got a peek at it, the company jumped at the chance to acquire it. Zagg already makes protective covers for smartphones and other devices.


The company bought the waterproofing technology about a year ago, co-founder and CEO Robert G. Pedersen II told Benzinga. "We improved the technology and we spun off a separate company called HZO," he added. "We got outside investors to come in and fund it so we didn't need to do any kind of raise through Zagg. Zagg still owns 40% of HZO."


Pedersen said that HZO (the "Z" stands for Zagg) lets mobile devices operate even after they get dropped in the sink or the tub. "I have a picture of someone who took an iPhone scuba diving down 30 meters and it worked great -- underwater -- for an hour," he said.


The technology, which Zagg calls "water blocking," is unique because it isn't waterproofed by seals, Pedersen continued. And get this: The coating goes on the inside. "It coats the whole innards of the phone," he said. "The vapor vacuum system goes inside the phone and coats it."


It's better to coat the motherboard and all the parts even before the device is assembled, Pedersen added. His company is talking to most of the major phone makers about adding the feature to future devices.


When pressed for specifics, Pedersen would not mention Apple or Samsung by name. Specific discussions are being protected by non-disclosure agreements.


It's probably a fair guess that Zagg has approached Apple. Zagg uses the iPhone in a video it has made demonstrating how water blocking works.


Pedersen estimated that Zagg expects HZO to appear in the consumer market "within the next 12 months."


If your smartphone needs to serviced, would HZO impact those repairs? Not at all, said Pedersen. "It's the same as if you [had to repair the phone] without it," he said. "I mean, if you have to replace the motherboard on a smartphone… it's pretty unlikely. Most of the time you just replace your phone."


Apple shares closed Thursday at $570.52, up 40.87% this year, and Zagg shares closed at $10.65, up 50.64% this year.


More From Benzinga
2Comments
May 11, 2012 7:48AM
May 11, 2012 1:37PM
avatar
When I read the headline for this story I thought GOOD maybe people will stop using their iPhones in the restroom.    Nope now they'll be even more bold while they are doing their business on the john.
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