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HZO’s Stephen Gold Featured On Embedded Executives Podcast

Stephen Gold, our Chief Commercial Officer, recently had the opportunity to sit down with Rich Nass, of the website Embedded Computing Design, so that he could weigh in on their podcast “Embedded Executives.” Check out what he had to say below or listen to the podcast now!

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST

Mallory McGuinness | April 20, 2020

Richard:

“Good afternoon, this is Rich Nass, executive vice president with Open Systems Media and leader of the Embedded Computing Design Franchise. Here for this week’s Embedded Executive podcast, my guest is Steven Gold, who is the chief commercial officer of HZO. I believe you are the first chief commercial officer I have done a podcast with. What does a chief commercial officer do?

Stephen:

My responsibility is really all the market facing activities for our organization. So that’s everything to do with our current customers, prospective customers, marketing, business development, partnerships, mergers, acquisitions, anything where it’s outbound focus and beneficial to HZO.

Richard:

I’m guessing that the audience is not familiar with HZO. You’re in the waterproofing space?

Stephen:

I think for a general description, that definitely gives you the right type of orientation to what we do. HZO’s not a household word to your point, but we’re so critically important to the average individual in everyday life. Meaning that what we effectively do is we protect electronics from the environment, and the environment can be challenging: snow, rain, sleet, often industrial settings that offer more challenges to a device.

one phone underwater that is still working because of HZO protection and another that is dead because of water damage

We protect electronics with a super thin-film that we apply to ensure that that bad things don’t happen.

I think we as individuals have come to expect a level of a right of reliability from the various devices we use. Like a smartphone or an earbud or a Bluetooth speaker. We take these devices to places that arguably are a bit more challenging for electronics – out to the beach where you have sand and salt and into the into the shower, where you have steam. And so the consumer, I think, has really been the catalyst to gain traction among the manufacturers for adopting a waterproof standard.

But now with the Internet of Things happening with autonomous cars, with advancements in medical devices, these devices too need to have waterproofing and electronic protection has moved well beyond the convenience of the phone into mission critical type applications from oil rigs and oil platforms to factories around the world. It just might be TMI. But who’s taking their phone into the shower? You’d be surprised how many people want to play music while they’re getting ready in the morning.

I know personally I’ve lost several phones to the hot tubs and swims in the pool. And the reality it’s unlikely the device will survive if not properly protected.

Richard: 

So if you’re waterproofing a smartphone, like my iPhone, why aren’t there parts of the device that have to be open like so you get audio out of it?  

 Stephen: 

Absolutely, in fact, you really bring up an important consideration in that, historically, when we think about protecting something from liquids, from water, from spills, you seal it and you seal it to keep things out. 

But the reality of today’s electronics, things have to get in there. There have to be ports to connect through and speakers to hear it through and microphones to speak through. HZO actually protects from the inside out. We protect at the circuitry level. So we look inside a device. We look at the at the component, the connector, the printed circuit board. And we protect what is going to be exposed in the case of liquid and dust to ensure its durability. 

So we actually take a very different approach to protection than what historically most manufacturers have done for their devices. So today it’s OK if it gets in. It’s protected.  

Richard: 

That’s very different from what I was thinking, you’re not an external case that just sits around the outside. So you have to be part of the manufacturing process.  

Stephen: 

Correct. We work with the completely original equipment and a fracture early on in the concept.  

Richard: 

Why? 

Stephen: 

To do new product development. We help manufacturers think about how they’re going to go through the process of producing the part ensured that the level of protection that their customer is going to expect. So we are literally in the factory with them, providing this super thin film coating over electronics. These are nano coatings. These are coatings that are measured in a fraction of the thickness of a human hair, incredibly, incredibly thin, but incredibly durable and resilient when it comes to the job that they have to do. 

Richard: 

OK, so you’re obviously adding some costs. Is there any other downside to this?  

 Stephen: 

There’s no downside to protection, and actually when you look at a cost, you look at total cost of ownership. If you don’t protect the device, it inevitably is going to succumb to the environment. It’s going to be returned. You’re going to have it covered under warranty. You’re going to have to repair it. You’re going to have to manage the logistics of getting it back to the end user. 

And so actually protecting something has the benefit of reducing a lot of the unnecessary costs that you could incur. If you look at something like an autonomous car. Obviously, an electronic component fails that’supporting navigation of breaking or steering that that that presents a much more formidable challenge. So if you’re talking about reducing liabilities and more important, I think, if you ask most individuals, they will actually pay more for a device that is protected. 

We protect electronics with a super thin-film that we apply to ensure that that bad things don’t happen.

Richard: 

Are you adding this to the device like a smartphone because the film is about as thin as it can possibly be? 

Stephen: 

Yes. Nanocoatings are measured in a couple hundred nanometres thickness. And to put that in perspective, a sheet of paper is about a hundred thousand nanometres thick. So when you’re adding this level of thickness, you’re not affecting the weight, you’re not affecting the bulk. 

You’re not affecting the tolerance of the electronic device itself, which is why what HZO does is so appealing. It’s unlike the more traditional ways to protect things by putting a bunch of of silicon or epoxy on top of something which is very thick and heavy and changes the characteristics. These super thin films do not.  

Richard: 

Sounds very intriguing. We’re pretty much out of time, but what’s with the name of the company HZO? Where did that come from?

Stephen: 

It dates back about a decade. Going back, the original play was really off of H2O. But the founding company that started this up, their name began with the Z. And I think there was a little clever play on words to get to that because the of the HZO outcome.  

Richard: 

I’d like to thank you, Stephen. I’ve certainly learned a lot here. Thank you very much for taking the time.  

Stephen: 

Hey, Richard. It’s been my absolute pleasure.  

So we actually take a very different approach to protection than what historically most manufacturers have done for their devices.

Mallory McGuinness

Mallory is an electronics protection evangelist who writes content for HZO. In her free time she is reading non-fiction, and hanging out with her beta fish, King Awesome.

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