Accidents are inevitable, and when an accident befalls a mobile phone, there's a good chance it will involve water. For the most part, modern phones handle a bit of damp quite well; there's never much trauma if you're out in the rain for a bit. But when you drop your phone in the bath, fall in a swimming pool or your phone makes a dive for your toilet you need a bit more protection.
That's where you need a nanoparticle layer protecting your phone. The problem is, applying such a layer to your handset isn't all that easy, and requires a machine costing tens of thousands of pounds. We went to see the machine, and the company called Techjacket that is now offering to coat your handset in a protective layer.
There are water resistant handsets on the market already, like the Sony Xperia Z, but these generally work by being sealed units, rather than having their components coated with a patented mist that wards off water. This is fine, but it causes problems if your phone falls in the sink while you've got one of the plugs that protect the USB port undone. But, ignoring waterproof phones, there are lots of other handsets out there that have no protection from water at all.
So, how does the service work, and what results should you see? We went to find out at a shop near Oxford Circus that usually specialises in Mac repairs, and is branching out. There we met, Marc Regan, the company owner, and founder of Techjacket. Marc kindly demonstrated the machinery involved, and how you can waterproof pretty much anything. His phone was already protected, but he showed us some RAM chips going through the process as well as what happens to a tissue if you put it in the machine.
This tissue has been treated with the waterproofing process, and as you can see, it's not soggy at all
The process is reasonably quick, and looking through the window of this gigantic industrial device doing its thing was very cool indeed. The gas that works its way into your device is invisible, but the company tests the extent to which the waterproofing penetrates the internal components, and gives them a rating for water resistance based upon that.
Indeed, it's also quite impressive how much the Techjacket team puts into research. We had just assumed that they would put your phone in a machine, and be done with it. In fact, there's a testing process they use that involves testing the supported handsets to destruction. Regan reacted to our surprise at this testing, saying that it was crucial to his reputation that the process worked as advertised.
This is the view you get when your device is in the machine, here we're waterpoofing some RAM
We asked if he was worried that in a few years all phone manufacturers would start protecting their phones with similar tech "No" was his reply, "it will happen." But he is more interested in protecting the phones that are already out there, that need protecting. Because it's not just about the cost of replacing a handset, but also the potentially devastating loss of data.
In the future you'll be able to protect almost anything. There are plans to add tablets and headphones to the list of devices soon, but there's no reason why laptops couldn't be protected in the future too, and pretty much any gadget you own could be given this water-resistant coating. Handy, if you're a clumsy clogs.
The Techjacket Watershield water-resistant coatings cost £55 per phone if you want your phone back on the same day; £45 if you don't mind a bit of a wait. You can see more information on the company's website.