iPhone 5's Groundbreaking Feature isn't From Apple
Apple's next iPhone could come packaged with a special feature that will guarantee it doesn't need to be replaced the next time you drop it in the toilet.
Believe or not, toilets have eaten a large number of smartphones. But if it isn't a toilet that destroys your prized device, it could be the bottle of beer that your friend spilled or the pool you dropped it in before taking a swim. Any amount of liquid -- water or otherwise -- could prove to be detrimental to your phone.
Thus, when ZAGG (NASDAQ: ZAGG) got a peak at a new technology that would allow smartphone manufacturers to waterproof their phones, the company jumped at the chance to acquire the IP.
"We purchased the IP and the system around it from a group out of Boston about a year ago," ZAGG co-founder and CEO Robert G. Pedersen II told Benzinga. "We improved the technology and we spun off a separate company called HZO. We got outside investors to come in and fund it so we didn't need to do any kind of raise through ZAGG. ZAGG still owns 40% of HZO."
Pedersen said that HZO (of which the 'Z' stands for 'ZAGG') enables mobile devices to become water-blocked. "You can drop them in the sink or the tub," he said. "I have a picture of someone who took an iPhone scuba diving down 30 meters and it worked great -- under water -- for an hour."
"It's a unique technology in that it's not waterproofed by seals," Pedersen continued. "We call it 'water blocking.' It's not actually seals or coating on the outside. It coats the whole innards of the phone. The vapor vacuum system goes inside the phone and coats it. And that's why it's better to do it on an OEM basis, because then it coats the motherboard and all of the parts before it's even assembled."
And now, after making the acquisition and continuing development of the technology, Pedersen said that ZAGG is "in discussion with most of the OEMs."
"We're working with all of the manufacturers and speaking with them," he said. "We want to be able to do it on the assembly line itself so that the mobile devices, tablets, etc., are all made with the HZO coating."
When pressed for specifics, Pedersen would not mention Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) or Samsung by name. "I can't say specifically who we're talking to because who we're talking to is under NDA," said Pedersen. "But we're talking to the major manufacturers right now that make devices."
We may not know exactly who ZAGG's "major manufacturers" are, but we can tell you that the company is using the iPhone to promote its technology.
ZAGG said that HZO's technology is ready to go. "Right now we're just refining the machine," said Pedersen. "We're building a new machine for the assembly line to be able to work with OEMs in an efficient way to mass-produce for the consumer. It is ready to go. We have many samples. We can produce it in-house, but we decided to not have consumers send us their [devices]."
Ultimately, Pedersen said that ZAGG expects HZO to appear in the consumer market "within the next 12 months."
If your smartphone needs to serviced, how might HZO impact those repairs? Not at all, said Pedersen. "It's the same as if you [had to repair the phone] without it," he said. "I mean, if you have to replace the motherboard on a smartphone…it's pretty unlikely. Most of the time you just replace your phone."
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