Mobile World Congress is the largest mobile technology trade show in the world and traditionally it’s been the place where phone companies show off new releases.
However this year HTC and Sony revealed their latest smartphones a few weeks in advance of MWC, while Samsung kept the Galaxy S4 for a separate event in New York. What’s the point, critics said, of spending all this time and money on a huge event if the block-busting hardware has already been unveiled?
But MWC is about more than a few headline superphones. There were hundreds of exhibitors demonstrating all kinds of interesting new mobile technology, and focusing solely on the big players could mean missing out on some really important advancements, like P2i and its water-repelling nanotechnology.
Plenty of mobile phones offer water-proofing, but in most cases this involves wrapping the phone in a thick layer of rubber and sealing up all the ports. This is effective but it’s not usually attractive.
The P2i solution is far more elegant. The firm can take any mobile phone (or indeed almost any solid object) and coat it with a water-repelling coating.
No doubt, this was one of the most impressive demonstrations at Mobile World Congress.
It helped that the P2i stand had an attention grabbing setup: immersed in a tray of water was a Samsung Galaxy S3, powered on and running normally. Even more surprising, the rear cover of the S3 had been removed so the battery was fully exposed. You can see the full demonstration by P2i on the Broadband Genie blog.
The S3 had been treated with Dunkable™, the latest form of P2i’s technology. This protects handsets to IPx7 standards, which requires devices to survive a metre of water for 30 minutes, though the timer on the S3 suggested it had been underwater for a lot longer than that.
As the phone was lifted out, the water droplets just slid off, and once the screen had been dried, it functioned as normal.
Unfortunately, as it’s a new development Dunkable™ is not yet available on any hardware. So what could P2i do for us smartphone users right now?
The answer is its first commercial splash-proof product. This offers protection against splashes and spills, and like Dunkable™, water simply slides off treated surfaces. While you can’t leave a handset immersed for a long period, it can survive everyday incidents that would kill unprotected devices.
The splash-proof coating is already used on recent Motorola RAZR smartphones. Like the RAZR i which I’d been carrying around for the last few months; turns out I was already a splash-proof user and hadn’t even realised.
P2i can make a real difference to both manufacturers and end-users. We get water-resistant phones without the ugly bulk of typical ruggedised handsets, while manufacturers are free to design phones without having to worry about needing to adapt the design to “build in” liquid protection.
The challenge at the moment is getting the technology onto handsets, and in this, P2i could learn from the likes of Corning.
Gorilla Glass is now the standard for toughened phone displays, and it’s become a selling point. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware that a smartphone with Corning Gorilla Glass means it’s well protected against scratches and falls.
If P2i is able to build its brand awareness to the point where consumers base their buying decisions on its inclusion, they’ll be able to attract more manufacturers and we’ll get to a point where technologies like the splash-proof coating and Dunkable™ are used as a matter of course. Then we won’t need to worry as much when our smartphones take a swim in the toilet bowl.