A temporary boss of mine (Scott Adams of Dilbert refers to these as "bungee bosses") relayed an entertaining and memorable story to me a while back. He went white-water rafting with his smartphone (a Samsung Galaxy S3) and thought it would be safe to pack it in multiple plastic baggies so it would survive the inevitable immersion while buttoned into his cargo shorts. "The guide said we didn't need to pack electronics, but I figured if you're in the middle of nowhere it was better safe than sorry to have some way to get in touch with people," he said.
The idea didn't pan out so well, unfortunately. "I fell out of the raft a couple of times and got right back in, then when I got to the campsite at the end of the day I found out those plastic bags had worked great! They held all the water that seeped in just fine!" he laughed. I had to admire his nonchalance, given the phone had no insurance and was a total loss.
My bungee boss could have saved himself some time and trouble if he had had the opportunity to take advantage of a new product called Dryzoo, coming June 5th, which can help waterproof a device. This is an idea long overdue. According to www.techradar.com, "Statistics show the second leading cause of smartphone failure is liquid damage (the first being damaged screens). 33% of broken smartphones are accidentally damaged by water, with rain, drinks, toilets and showers all being common causes of this often-irreparable damage."
Some smartphone manufacturers are building waterproof models of their products, such as the Kyocera Hydro Elite, which bills itself as "the spill-, splash- and drool-ready smartphone that's built to survive the unexpected." It's a great start in the right direction, although Kyocera cautions that "the phone will not operate under water and should be dried as quickly as possible when wet." Dryzoo, however, almost seems to relish submersion:
Dryzoo seals smartphones (and other devices) in a special waterproof coating to help protect them against liquid damage. The Dryzoo team does not exactly suggest going swimming with the device, but their product quite likely would have saved my ex-boss's Android. This special coating has a waterproof rating of IPX7, meaning that it passed tests of 30 minutes underwater in 3 feet of water, making it able to withstand contact with liquids.
How it works
Dryzoo posted a nifty infographic on Facebook back in March which reveals the nitty-gritty of how their coating operates:
Now, I'll be the first to admit that when I got to the part about how "we release our special Dryzoo non-toxic gas into the chamber," the famous image of Han Solo frozen in carbonite from the film "The Empire Strikes Back" immediately came to mind.
However, the difference between Dryzoo and that image is that unlike Han Solo the smartphone is perfectly functional and there is no apparent effect of the carbonite freezing - I mean, the coating application (which is non-toxic and does not interfere with device ventilation). In fact, this video even shows orange juice being poured over a working iPhone:
How do customers get their devices to Dryzoo?
Once Dryzoo goes live customers can ship devices to a facility in Huntington Beach, CA to have the waterproof coating applied, after which the devices are sent back. Overnight shipping can be used in either direction to minimize the time involved.
What does Dryzoo cost?
I communicated via email with Bryan Ortt, the founder of Dryzoo. Mr. Ortt informed me that "the first 25 people to purchase Dryzoo will receive it for $30 and get a complimentary Boom Shield screen protector with their purchase. After the first 25 people, the price will be $50, which still includes the complimentary screen protector. We offer Dryzoo for all cell phones and tablets, ear buds, iPods, compact cameras and DSLRs at various price points. When you order any type of Dryzoo coating, you get a free screen protector for whatever device that you ordered, customized to fit the exact size of that device."
Further questions for the founder
Continuing our discussion, I inquired the following of Ortt:
SM: "Does Dryzoo provide additional device protection such as making it tougher in withstanding drops or falls?"
BO: "The Dryzoo coating is for preventing liquid damage, and does not add additional strength to the device. However, our Boom Shield screen protector is entirely anti-shock, providing superior protection against impacts, drops, or falls. Our coating is also antibacterial, making your device clean and safe against all harmful bacteria you come in contact with on a daily basis."
SM: "Is there a one-year warranty on the service?"
BO: "Dryzoo comes with a one year warranty, offering you a replacement device in the event that Dryzoo does not protect your device from accidental exposure to liquids. (This one year-warranty is only available on smartphones and tablets) Our Boom Shield screen protector also comes with a one year warranty, providing coverage in the event that your Boom Shield screen protector gets cracked or shattered."
SM: "Does the Dryzoo coating impede with a devices radio antenna or wifi signal?"
BO: "No, the coating does not affect the functionality of the phone in any way. In fact, you will not even notice our Dryzoo coating on your electronic devices."
SM: "Does the Dryzoo coating impede the process of opening up devices (such as Androids)?"
BO: "No, you will not even notice it on the device. Our Dryzoo coating is 1000x thinner than a human hair, making it completely invisible to the human eye."
SM: "I have a ZeroLemon extended battery on my Samsung Galaxy S3 with a special soft plastic TPU case. Can Dryzoo be used on this as well?"
BO: "Yes, our Dryzoo coating can be applied to virtually anything, but at the moment we are only coating approved devices, including various types of ear buds, iPods, phones, tablets, compact cameras, and DSLRs."
SM: "Are there any plans to offer other facilities besides Huntington Beach, CA to which users can ship their smartphones/tablets?"
BO: "We are not able to offer any facilities besides Huntington Beach at this time, although we have plans to expand in the future."
SM: "Can you share details with my readers on how the idea came about, what other plans you guys have coming down the pipe and anything else that might be nifty trivia for people to know?"
BO: "Our launch date is June 5, and we are very excited to get the word out about Dryzoo.
I have always had a deep love for technology, and always strived to use it in order to make life simpler. With the growing importance of electronics in our daily lives, I felt that this technology is a necessity in order to protect our data and memories. Because technology plays such a vital importance in our daily lives, I felt that it was necessary to securely protect our devices.
We are talking to some large manufacturers right now that want to implement our Dryzoo technology into their products; however, we are not at liberty to discuss it at this time. We are also working on launching our clothing brand, as we estimate the launch around the end of the year. Our line will focus primarily on clothes that cannot get wet, stain, or grow bacteria on them, making them the idea choice for consumers."
Sealing the deal
I go to a lot of pool parties in the summer with my kids, and the first thing I generally do upon entering a pool area is to take my wallet and smartphones (yes, there are two) out and put them on a table in case I have to dive in to pull out a child who went too far from the shallow end. Of course, this also means my gear gets buried under a pile of wet towels, and I often have to venture back to the party to retrieve them after we've departed. I think Dryzoo represents a great idea not just to keep my smartphone free of water but also to keep from misplacing it - or worse, having it subjected to the fingers of a kid who just ate Doritos and now wants to play "Angry Birds Space." Now if they could also seal my wallet off too I'd be ahead of the game!
To learn more about Dryzoo, check out their link on Indegogo.
Scott Matteson is a senior systems administrator and freelance technical writer who also performs consulting work for small organizations. He resides in the Greater Boston area with his wife and three children.