Dropped Your Phone in the Toilet? No Worries!

By Tim Wright, Editor | February 13, 2012

Doesn’t it seem like mobile phones have become a part of the body? They are ubiquitous across the landscape of our modern culture and the manner in which people communicate with one another continues to evolve (or devolve, depending on your opinion).

We’ve all heard the anecdotes about people checking their smartphones in the boardroom, the bathroom, even the bedroom, not to mention the restaurant, the line in the grocery store, or really any place us humans occupy at any given moment. Perhaps you are one of these people.

Even during the largest economic recession since the Great Depression the wireless industry continued to grow. A survey conducted by the wireless association CTIA in 2009 said 91 percent of Americans use cell phones, or 285 million users, an increase of 15 million over the previous year. More recent research from Nielsen says as many as 40 percent of mobile users in the United States now own smartphones.

However, as we’ve seen these gadgets evolve over the years two problems have persisted: water damage and scratches.

In fact a few months back I was late for something, couldn’t find my phone, was turning my home upside down while cursing the phone’s existence and my dependence on it when my three-year old daughter took me by the hand, walked me to the bathroom, flipped open the toilet seat and voilà, Daddy’s phone’s drowning and Sadie’s clapping and laughing proud of her fine accomplishment.

Sound familiar to anyone? Well, maybe not exactly. Point is, on the high-tech phone frontier, we’re no longer going to have to worry about this kind of a problem.

Coatings technology is being developed for smartphone covers that repair themselves when scratched and micro-thin coatings to encase your device and keep the water out.
Fact is phones are expensive. And because your phone is so expensive, the industry is betting you’ll probably spend some extra money trying to protect it.

There is now a type of iPhone case from Nissan that has yet to be released on the market that actually self-repairs. The self-repairing technology is made out of ABS plastic and polyrotaxane. Polyrotaxane is chemically structured to fill in gaps, such as scratches, and return to its original shape.

One of the secrets to the Scratch Shield is the paint finish. The paint was specifically created by a company called Advanced Softmaterials and the University of Tokyo, and their inspiration was modern innovations in the automotive engineering industry, as Nissan uses the same paint on their newer cars.

According to a study, 82.5 million phones in the United States have been rendered inoperable due to exposure to moisture or water.

Three start-ups aim to correct that this year, offering special, micro-thin coatings made of nanomaterials that can seamlessly and invisibly encase your next iPhone or Android phone and keep it safe from the rain, or even a plunge in the potty.

HzO, P2i, and Liquipel are the three companies and recently put their technology on display at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The micro-thin coatings join a variety of other paint-based solutions such as a prototype solar paint and the existing self-healing, scratch resistant paint found on cars. So I’m left wondering: When will come the time scientists combine these various types of high-tech paints into one special “super paint?”