Wednesday, January 11, 2012

One Per Cent

CES: Waterproof gadgets are a surprise hit at show

Pete Nowak, contributor

With internet connectivity in just about everything these days, there's almost no situation in which we can't get online and be productive. Apart from the shower, that is. Who wants to get their brand new shiny iPad wet, after all?
That last internet dead zone may not last much longer, however, with the waterproofing of gadgets a major theme at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
The first step down the road may be the predictably named iShower from Connecticut-based accessory maker iDevices, which attaches to the shower wall in the bathroom. It can stream music from phones and tablets within a 60-metre range via Bluetooth. Devices are thus safe from water damage. iDevices says its speaker, a new take on the classic shower radio, will be available in March for about $99.
Japan's Fujitsu is also showing off a fish tank full of waterproof tablets and smartphones. The devices posess an invisible rubberised coating that protects them, while all inputs are compartmentalised. Plugs either have covers or are sealed off, so water can't get in.
The products are currently available in Japan, while Fujitsu is gauging whether there's North American interest at CES, according to a spokesman.
Similarly, Salt Lake City-based HzO is looking for buyers for its WaterBlock technology, a thin film nano-coating that is applied during the manufacturing process. The company is targeting cellphone makers and announced a $3-million investment by Horizon Ventures, one of Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing's firms, at CES.
As HzO's press materials put it, waterproofing technology will allow "you to talk on your phone while in your Jacuzzi, to listen to your iPod while lounging in the pool, or to rock out while waterskiing."
And we thought texting while driving was a problem.

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