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Waterproofing technology makes a splash at CES

Waterproof phones: An iPhone using HzO WaterBlock technology is displayed in a bowl of water during a CES press event at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas.

With CES in full swing in Las Vegas, there’s one technology in particular that’s caught my eye and it isn’t even new or cutting edge.In fact, this smartphone technology was unveiled last year at CES 2012. But this time around, I personally hope cell phone companies are also taking notice and that it catches on.The technology comes from a company called HzO — it’s a waterproofing technology that could soon make the age of worrying about your smartphone around water, a thing of the past.The company’s ‘WaterBlock’ technology is a protective coating that is applied to a device’s internal components. It allows water to flow inside the phone, but the patented, protective polymer keeps the water from causing damage when it hits the device’s innards.HzO promises smartphones that can withstand not just a splash or two — they’re talking about phones that keep on ticking during long-term baths.And they’re doing demos at CES to prove it. During last year’s demo, the company hooked up an HzO protected iPhone to a portable speaker and hit play on the phone’s music library. Then they dunked the phone part into a fish tank full of water. The phone kept playing music to the speaker despite being fully submerged for minutes.This year, the company says it’s stepping up its game at CES — dunking its protected devices in everything from hot coffee to notoriously corrosive Coke.Company representatives left phones running for minutes at a time while the devices were completely submerged in liquids like Powerade, orange juice and even Bud Light. And guess what — they just kept on working.The company hopes the coating will one day become standard equipment on certain phone models.“We are working with all major electronics manufacturers worldwide, and they are looking into building this into next-generation models,” HzO CEO Paul Clayson said in a recent interview.On Monday, an HzO executive told one tech reporter at CES that a smartphone manufacturer would beannouncing the launch of a completely waterproof smartphone this week.And wouldn’t you know — late yesterday afternoon Sony made a splash unveiling its new Xperia Z — the world’s first waterproof smartphone. Whether Sony is using HzO’s technology is not yet clear.Sony claims one in ten people have dropped their phone down a toilet before, so it looks like they, HzO and other companies working on waterproofing technologies are on to something. And as someone who has doused her device in beer before (don’t ask) I personally am thrilled to see this technology trend catching on. I only wish HzO sold the stuff in spray cans so I could coat my new phone with it.