Superhydrophobic ‘NeverWet’ spray-on coating could waterproof your iPhone forever (with video)

“Inside of every iPhone are a dozen little moisture indicators that turn pink the second your iPhone is exposed to excessive moisture,” John Brownlee reports for Cult of Mac. “Apple uses them to tell when to deny you warranty service because you’ve accidentally dropped your device in the drink or left it out in the rain, but wouldn’t it be better if Apple never had to worry about replacing a water damaged device again?”

Brownlee reports, “We could be a year away from just that, thanks to Never Wet, a superhydrophobic coating that does such a good job resisting moisture that devices literally can never get wet when slathered in the stuff… This does not appear to be a scam. The coating was developed by the minds over at Ross Nanotechnology, and not only does Never Wet make it possible to keep electronic devices water proof for over a year at a time, but it’s also great for preventing ice damage, corrosion and making devices less prone to picking up harmful bacteria.”

Read more in the full article here.

Charlie Sorrel reports for Wired, “The sales pitch is that objects coated in NeverWet can “never get wet.” The claims seem to be truthful: a small panel was left in a bucket of seawater at the NeverWet offices for a year. One side was coated in NeverWet. When the panel was removed, this side came out dry, and still water repellent.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Edward W.” for the heads up.]

47 Comments

  1. So this is a great example of a company apple should buy… Water proofed iOS and laptops would simply put them in a different league then the rest of the market. This would make the Air and iPhone untouchable.

    1. Since this video is from 2010 Apple already knows about it for a long time. And if they did not buy it, then they think that:
      1) this advantage is marginal;
      2) the coating will cost quite a money during manufacturing;
      3) and the thermal quality of products will be worsened.

      1. Yes i agree with that but if Apple would start putting heat sinks in thier phones a least then it would be a lot better for them. after all there is enough space even the 4s.

    1. Also the dock connectors. It’s fine to say it’ll be protected right after spraying the iPhone… but what happens after a dock connect/disconnect? Presumably the coating is scraped off the pins, and you’d have to re-spray.

      Granted this isn’t as big a deal now with wireless sync’ing, but you still need to dock for firmware upgrades and device restores (and of course docked syncs/transfers are much faster than wireless).

      Fascinating stuff nonetheless

  2. Would be good for protecting an iPhone on a bike’s handlebars, without needing a big bulky case for waterproofing. Neat stuff, I remember reading something about it ages ago, but I’d forgotten about it. Glad it’s still in development.

      1. Some people bike in the rain. Hell, I see plenty of people bike to and from work here even in the dead of winter when it’s -20C outside, the ground is covered with snow and ice, with winds whipping them in the face. Those are hardcore cyclists, to be sure…

          1. I commend you in the Netherlands for having a good cycling culture. In most of Canada (the US is even worse) it’s a constant clash between cyclists, drivers and pedestrians. In most places there aren’t the nice, wide, dedicated bike roads I see in a Youtube video of Netherlands winter biking, and most aren’t well maintained in the winter.

            Also, it seems the Netherlands doesn’t get as much snow as we do here. Hard to find info, but one source said average is 3-5 inches (I assume that’s per year). Where I am, we average 93 inches of snow a year. It’s plowed to the sides of roads, but between clearing operations it’s not uncommon for a 3-lane road (1 lane each way, plus parking on one side) to be reduced to 2.

            Cyclists legally aren’t allowed to ride on the sidewalk, so in winter they’re fighting for already-tight space with drivers. It’s downright dangerous; one cyclist was killed last month when the driver of a parked car unthinkingly threw open his door into the cyclist’s path, the cyclist crashed into it, fell onto the road, and was crushed by a following car. And this was during a perfectly clear day.

            So yes, over here winter cycling is considered hardcore–not merely because of the weather hardships, but because the risk to cyclist safety goes way up.

      2. He is likely talking about a MTB. I see roadies with iPhones clamped to the bars but I rarely ever see a MTB with anything but purpose built (and fully waterproof) electronics on the bars.

  3. This is so cool. Hope it comes to market soon and Apple takes advantage of this.

    Oh maybe one day we can have that Knight Rider special spray to make our devices indestructible? 🙂

  4. C’mon, think logically about this: I doubt any spray on coating would seal up the little gaps around individual buttons, slider switches, or especially dock ports and headphone ports. That’s where the water leaks inside if the device is submerged for any amount of time. If all those entry opportunities were to truly be sealed up, the result would be buttons and switches glued to inoperability, and ports that could not have dock connectors or headphone jacks plugged into them. This water repellant is remarkable… but for the purpose of making an iPhone waterproof, it’s a misuse of the technology, and therefore an unworkable gimmick. You want a waterproof iPhone? Get an otterbox case for it.

    1. Otter doesn’t make waterproof cases. Waterproofing is mostly a function of design, water depth or pressure and opening size. If this item can repel water from the small openings from light rain or or a cold drink spill, then it would be a wise investment for most of us.

    2. You don’t understand hydrophilic coatings (or the nature of water). These coating can keep water for penetrating screens and small cracks without physically sealing them because of the surface tension characteristics of water (on a hydrophobic surface).

        1. yeah, I ment to write hydrophilic/phobic coatings but got distracted (I tend to think ahaead of where I am actually typing… often causes missed words and spastic sentence structure. (I did write hydrophobic at the end though ;-))

          And yes the hydrophobic coating won’t allow water to penetrate small openings because of the water’s surface tension (however, if you put a small amount of surfactant (like dish soap) in the water the iPhone would have been wetted immediately (because the lowered surface tension would allow water to penetrate through the screens and cracks)

  5. It would need to keep the product waterproof throughout it’s working life and still do so after being subjected to wear and abrasion.

    A test where an object is simply left in water for a year doesn’t mean much in the real world. The object needs to be coated, then used normally for a year or two and only then submersed in water or left in the washing machine.

    If it works after a test like that, I’ll be much more interested.

  6. it would be best to coat the internals as well as the outside. the dock connector could just be sealed tight, and made of noncorrosive materials and what not. the dock connector wouldn’t even need to be coated then. It’s crazy to think they left a circuit board in salt water for a year… to no ill effect? that’s pretty amazing right there. salt water is extremely corrosive to electronics.

    To have the first waterproof phone would be game over for everyone else. imagine them putting a helium release valve on it.. you could use your iPhone up to 500 meters below the surface of the ocean (yea right but my watch can do it).

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.