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Apple’s New Patent and Water Damage Indicators

Keeping with the theme of water damage for our HZO Water Damage Awareness Month, this week we are bringing you a two-for-one blog article: news from the world of Apple and a little science lesson to go along with it. Recently, Apple was able to secure a patent that

gives them exclusive rights to a special water damage detector for their phones. This water damage detector gives customer service representatives and customers alike a simpler way to determine if their iPhone, iPod, or iPad has been in contact with liquid of any kind. Apple says that a detector would be placed inside a closed device and provides “at least one visual indication after being immersed in water.” Currently, all Apple iPhones, tablets, laptops and mp3 devices must be inspected by a technician in order to see the water damage indicators. According to Apple, the water damage detector will be specially placed where users can determine water damage from the outside. For Apple, having that water damage indicator easily accessible is extremely important because the company’s iPhone warranty does not cover water damage. Currently, if a customer comes into the Apple store with an iPhone that “just won’t turn on,” when in all reality the iPhone was actually tossed into a swimming pool, Apple might still be forced to pay for the replacement anyways because no signs of water damage are readily visible.

Now that you understand a little more about what Apple is up to, and the motivation behind their water damage detection patent, what about a little information on how a little red sticker is supposedly going to solve all of Apple’s warranty woes?

Liquid submersion indicators, or LSIs, used to detect water damage are placed on nearly all but the cheapest electronic devices in the entire world- so this says a lot for how heavily manufacturers rely on these little guys. While these tiny indicators look more like a sticker you could simply peel away than anything, it is interesting to note that most LSIs are not actually stickers at all, but tiny packets of dye that turn red when they come in contact with moisture, indicating possible water damage. One thing that people often forget, however, is that it does not take a full dunk in water to set off a LSI. Taking your smartphone into a humid area, such as your bathroom during a shower, could trip the indicator as well, and easily cause enough water damage to void a manufacture warranty.

Water Damage Indicator Myths

There are a lot of interesting myths surrounding water damage indicators, such as:

– The myth that you can actually dry the indicator out enough that it will change back to its original white color.

– The myth stating that bleach can be used to dye the red indicator white again, essentially fooling manufacturers into replacing water damaged units when warranties would not otherwise cover them.

Both are untrue. LSI indicators not only change color permanently, but are also usually placed in more than one spot on a device. This means that even if you somehow manage to coax one back to its original color, chances are there is another on the device that will still show that it has come in contact with water.

Here at HZO, we get a lot of questions about when our technology is going to be available, and why we don’t work with consumer devices that are on the market today. There are two big reasons why we think it’s important to integrate waterproof technology (also known as conformal coatings) directly into the manufacturing process:

  1. By integrating our technology directly into new devices it eliminates the extra costs and hassle of secondary forms of water protection. Basically, you don’t have to ship your phone off to have it protected or buy a bulky, awkward case- the technology is already built in.
  2. With HZO integrated into new devices and coming directly from major manufacturers, it will work with manufacture warranties instead of against them. We believe this part is extremely important to both the manufacturers and consumers. Because manufacturer warranties often don’t cover things like water damage, this leaves the consumer fronting the cost of a new phone, and with water damage detection indicators becoming more advanced, the more you can do to protect yourself from the cause the better.

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