With the growing number of people owning smartphones – now up to 44% in the United States, according to Nielsen – it’s not surprising that many exhibitors at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) are showing off ways to upgrade mobile devices.
Yesterday, for instance, I covered two innovations that help keep smartphone batteries charged on the go.
Today, let’s look at two new innovations at CES that can safeguard the phone itself.
Stronger Touchscreen Displays
As CNN says, “When it comes to innovation in electronic gadgets, a new kind of glass is not especially sexy.”
True. But as more consumers get their hands on glass-covered touchscreen devices, it’s important to have a display that can hold up to heavy use.
And Corning’s (NYSE: GLW) Gorilla Glass is one of the most resilient displays on the market today. Which is why hundreds of devices – including Apple’s (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone and iPad – use it to protect their touchscreen interfaces.
At CES this week, Corning debuted an upgraded version of the material, Gorilla Glass 2.
It’s 20% thinner, which comes out to only about 0.2mm – but every millimeter counts. The thinner display makes touch inputs more responsive, since your finger comes into closer contact with the interface.
It doesn’t sacrifice strength for a thinner physique, either, since it can withstand as much pressure as the original glass.
The new glass also lets more light pass through, which should result in a brighter display.
The company expects to mass produce the new glass soon, and we should see products shipping with it built-in sometime this year.
Use Your Smartphone Underwater
There’s a reason Motorola (NYSE: MMI) made such a big deal about the splash resistance of its Droid Razr smartphone: Water can be a gadget-lover’s worst nightmare.
Well, thanks to Liquipel’s technology, you might not have to worry about water damage anymore.
The company has developed a patent-pending technique to coat your smartphone in a hydrophobic (i.e. – water repellent) substance.
Better yet, Liquipel treats the device in a vacuum chamber that extends the effects of the coating all the way through the inside of the device, making sure the internal components are protected, too. So you could literally dunk your phone in a bucket of water if you wanted, and it would still work.
Check out how a Liquipel-treated iPhone 4 can keep running underwater like a champ.
If this technology sounds familiar to you, that’s probably because I wrote in November about a similar product called NeverWet, which also has patents pending.
I contacted the company behind NeverWet, Ross Technology, to get its opinion about the similarities between the products.
A representative told me that the technologies differ “in many ways. They utilize a vacuum chamber to incorporate their waterproofing technology… Our technology is applied by spraying, like a paint. Additionally, our technology provides superhydrophobic water repellency.”
As you’d expect, superhydrophobic coatings repel water to the extreme. In fact, NeverWet’s spray can even make other objects – including fabric and metals – resistant to oils, too. This would allow your phone to repel messier substances like chocolate.
So which one should you go with?
Well, if you’re just concerned about your iPhone getting dunked in the pool, Liquipel might be your best bet. Select phones can be treated right now if you have $59 to spare – and the courage and patience to send your phone to the company.
If you want to make your clothes and shoes waterproof, as well as your phone – and you have the tendency to drop your mobile devices in chocolate fountains – hold off a few months for NeverWet. It should be available to consumers by mid-year.