There aren't many universal truths when it comes to gadgets, but the cardinal rule we all learn is that water and electronics just don't mix. Making a gadget waterproof traditionally involves some combination of a bulky outer shell and rubber mechanical seals, almost always increasing the weight and size.At the Consumer Electronics Show 2013 in Las Vegas, we caught up with a technology that wants to change that: [http://www.hzoinside.com/technology](HzO) WaterBlock. Owned by accessory manufacturer Zagg Inc., WaterBlock involves applying a microfilm to your gadget through the process of vapor deposition, resulting in a clear, clean, lightweight—and most importantly, waterproof—surface over a gadget's sensitive internal components. The result is a product that can be fully submerged in water, with no other protection whatsoever. One prototype Samsung Galaxy SII on display sat in water without its rear case. Even with its battery and memory card exposed to liquid, the phone just kept working like nothing was out of the ordinary. Cameras are certainly a different animal—moisture in a lens, for example, can wreck everything without causing any electrical problems—but there are certainly great possibilities. HzO's website seems keen to point out that the process can work on all sorts of material, even fabric for waterproof bags. If a compact camera could survive a whole day in the pouring rain without blocky, failure-prone rubber seals, it'd be a welcome touch. So with WaterBlock, we have a waterproofing solution that is lightweight, has no cosmetic effect on your gadgets, doesn't make them any thicker, and is more effective than mechanical seals. The potential for the process is obviously massive—imagine a world where being pushed into a pool with your phone isn't catastrophic—but HzO is very coy about WaterBlock's availability. Or lack thereof. You can't WaterBlock your devices. It's not designed as a one-off process to be done in your home, but rather as something to be integrated at the factory level. Manufacturers need to commit to this as part of their design and assembly process.
The company's press material suggests a possible future with WaterBlock on everything from laptops and cameras to rugs and clothing. It could be the next Teflon. The only products currently slated to bring the technology to market are the TAG Heuer RACER Sub-Nano—a niche Android smartphone—and a new NavELite compass.
Those aren't nearly as mainstream as the iPhone prototypes available here at CES, but it's a start. Unfortunately, no amount of cash seemed to convince the representative to WaterBlock my Samsung Galaxy Note II. I wish it would be that easy.
For more on HzO and WaterBlock technology, head to their site.