Joe Desposito's Blog

Fragile Electronics Get Help At This Year’s CES And From Previous Shows, Too

I heard about two product mishaps from my relatives over the holidays. One was caused by my 2-year old grandson who took a small metal object to an Apple iPad2 screen and cracked it. The other was from a nephew who accidentally spilled coffee on the keyboard of his Apple MacBook, rendering it inoperable.

Frankly, I was surprised by the iPad2 incident. Tablet manufacturers, especially, should by now be using Corning’s Gorilla glass in their products to avoid just such a calamity. I saw Gorilla glass demoed back at the 2009 CES show, and Bill Wong interviewed Corning’s Paul Tompkins about this very tough material at the 2010 show.

The Acer Iconia A500 tablet that I own does use Gorilla glass, and I’m happy about that because a few of my grandchildren like to play with this tablet.

Neither my daughter-in-law nor my nephew purchased an extended “no matter what happens” warranty for their electronics. My daughter-in-law begged for a replacement at her local Apple store and was able to get a refurbished model for her troubles. My nephew wasn’t so lucky--no extended warranty, no replacement.

Realistically, though, why should anyone have to purchase this “insurance” to cover a company’s design choices anyway? I never purchase extended warranties, relying instead on the company’s one-year warranty for defects and my own credit card protection for mishaps.

With the coffee fiasco in mind, I noticed a new product introduction at this year’s CES that won’t help my nephew, but may help protect laptops and other mobile electronics from liquids in the future. A company named HzO announced a product called WaterBlock. Actually, it’s not a product, but a cutting-edge technology that protects electronics from water, humidity and other liquids, like coffee. The company says that WaterBlock is an invisible nanotechnology coating that protects electronics on a molecular scale.

HzO has developed novel chemical formulations, new application processes, new high volume production application equipment and new surface prep and masking techniques. WaterBlock is not only meant for consumer products but military, commercial, industrial and other electronics as well.

If this technology works as claimed, WaterBlock will join Gorilla glass in making electronic products more robust in the future.

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