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CES 2013: Utah startup HzO hopes to make your devices waterproof

The days of water and other liquids being the enemy of consumer electronics may be over, if HzO has its way. At CES this week, the Utah-based startup is showing off a solution it claims can counter the often fatal effects of swimming pools, spilled drinks, and rainstorms by making the next generation of smartphones, tablets, earphones, televisions and other consumer electronics virtually waterproof.

HzO’s WaterBlock technology, which was awarded a CES Innovations Design and Engineering prize, uses a nano-coating process to cover the innards of electronic devices with a liquid-repelling film that blocks out moisture without disrupting the products’ functions. It’s applied to the insides of a device and adds no extra bulk or weight and is completely transparent when used on materials including metal, plastic, steel and tin.

At CES, HzO representatives demonstrated WaterBlock to ITProPortal by dunking a Samsung Galaxy S2 into a tank full of beer. The phone was sat in the liquid for a prolonged period of time and, remarkably, continued to work both while submerged and after being removed from the beer.

Though the technology was originally developed to be used by rescue workers, HzO hopes to collaborate with manufacturers large and small to have WaterBlock applied directly during the manufacturing process. Last year, the company hinted at the possibility of collaboration with the likes of Apple and Samsung. While the technology isn’t available for consumer use directly, there’s a good chance it could make its way to mainstream products very soon.

HzO has also said that it foresees its WaterBlock technology being adapted for use in non-electronic products, such as rugs and textiles that equally need to be protected from liquids and other potentially damaging substances.