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Mobile devices waterproofed by MilTech

Mobile devices waterproofed by MilTech

One of the plasma injection chambers at P2i used for coating devices in the Ion-Mask layer.

A product originally developed for the military (isn't it always those guys who get the coolest toys?) may help protect mobile devices from the inclemency of British weather. The tech, currently working under the absolutely awesome name of Ion-Mask, allows things like mobile 'phones to be used under water.

Developed at P2i, part of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory in Porton Down, the Ion-Mask technology originally came about as part of research into creating protective NBC-proof (Nuclear and Biological Contaminants) clothing for soldiers. The Ion-Mask layer is bonded to the material (or MP3 player) via plasma injection, and the company claims it alters the surface at a 'molecular level' to repel oil and water.

The technology is apparently good enough to allow a treated mobile 'phone to be used while underwater, although how you'd make yourself understood whilst drowning isn't mentioned.

Ion-Mask certainly shows promise, providing the cost of treating devices isn't too high. We've all worried about our precious electronic companions when we're caught in a downpour, although I can usually bear to be parted from mine long enough to take a quick dip in the pool.

The company has not yet announced partnerships with any manufacturers, and the only place you can get your device treated with the tech is at their home base in Wiltshire; it looks like we might be waiting a while before we see this technology used on a commercial level.

Fancy making the trip just to ensure your iPod will keep working after a dip in the sea, or are you happy leaving your devices at home when the weather turns foul? Let us know via the forums.

13 Comments

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Cptn-Inafinus 1st January 2008, 14:15 Quote
Curious too say the least. I wonder how unbeliveably ridiculously expensive it is though.
Zurechial 1st January 2008, 14:18 Quote
Mobile phones? Pah!
I'd prefer to get my motherboard and graphics card Ion-Masked, then never worry about a leaking water-cooling loop ever again. :p
samkiller42 1st January 2008, 14:47 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cptn-Inafinus
Curious too say the least. I wonder how unbeliveably ridiculously expensive it is though.

I bet, hopefully wont be OTT
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zurechial
Mobile phones? Pah!
I'd prefer to get my motherboard and graphics card Ion-Masked, then never worry about a leaking water-cooling loop ever again. :p

Why, use the correct water and it doesn't matter;)

All this Ion-Masking sounds fun, may be able to get a water proof coat that doesn't let water in:(

Sam
sam.g.taylor 1st January 2008, 15:56 Quote
Does anyone have an idea as to what kind of cost this would incur? I understand that as it's used more frequently cost would come down, but as with any next-gen technology there are always those first few people who can afford the high price...

I wish I was one of them.
Cptn-Inafinus 1st January 2008, 16:01 Quote
Actually, this could be very intresting. If you could do this too all the componentry in your computer, you could submerge it in water. Alot like the oil cooled PC's you see. Running costs would be alot lower than oil as well.

Intresting...
Zurechial 1st January 2008, 16:51 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by samkiller42

Why, use the correct water and it doesn't matter;)

As soon as water touches your copper or aluminium water-blocks and rads, it absorbs particles from the metal surfaces and becomes conductive, no matter how purely distilled or deionised it was originally, and specialised coolants marketed as being non-conductive have been repeatedly proven to be conductive enough to cause damage to components if leaked. :p
Dr. Strangelove 1st January 2008, 18:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zurechial
As soon as water touches your copper or aluminium water-blocks and rads, it absorbs particles from the metal surfaces and becomes conductive, no matter how purely distilled or deionised it was originally, and specialised coolants marketed as being non-conductive have been repeatedly proven to be conductive enough to cause damage to components if leaked. :p

in fact deionized water can at times be more corrosive than normal water among other things the pH of deionized water is quite a bit lower than tap water.

With regard to the submerged computer idea (which was the first thought that popped into my head) we would naturally like to know whether this coating changes the heat conducting properties of the material it covers, and whether the coating is affected by temperature fluxes.
metarinka 1st January 2008, 22:24 Quote
also from the sounds of it, if it's changing the surface structure at a molecular level to repel water, I believe the heat transfer would be lower as well as water isn't interacting as closely with chip surface as before.

very intersting tech, I wonder on a more detailed level how it works. you think in 5 years will all cellphones come pre waterproofed?
Zurechial 1st January 2008, 23:22 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Strangelove

With regard to the submerged computer idea (which was the first thought that popped into my head) we would naturally like to know whether this coating changes the heat conducting properties of the material it covers, and whether the coating is affected by temperature fluxes.

I'd imagine it'd work like an unmoving flow boundary layer of water and insulate the components slightly.
My knowledge of the topic is limited but pdf27 would probably know. :p
Seraphim Works 2nd January 2008, 00:34 Quote
If not too expensive, this could be great for things such as waterproof hearing aids, etc. Having to go without when swimming in the sea with the girlfriend, etc, could be a thing of the past.
HellRazor 2nd January 2008, 00:38 Quote
quote - "Fancy making the trip just to ensure your iPod will keep working after a dip in the sea"

I doubt even doing this to the Ipod would make them any better.... bloody thing would most likely break during the treatment!
ralph.pickering 2nd January 2008, 01:47 Quote
Having just doused my laptop with a misdirected shower hose I can definitely see the need for this. Bit late in my case, but hey, my next laptop might work in the bath, not just next to it. (BTW I was keeping an eye on an ebay auction, not pr0n... for those who were wondering).
Jaguar_Infinity 2nd January 2008, 15:32 Quote
This would be great for me. Im a watersports instructor and i go off on remote wilderness expeditions and to be able to ensure any tech stuff i take stays in working order from water would be invaluble. Can you imagine how serious having your satalite phone not working due to water damage after you've had an accident (like breaking your leg or hip) when you need to call a float plane in to pick you up and get you to hospital? let alone not having to worry about a camera or normal phone or anything else while your on a days trip down the river even here at home (i've actuall killed off 2 and nearly killed of a third electroic device due to water damage)

I know alot of people will comment that you can get aquapak cases etc for your devices but after use the seams break (and you may not notice for a while) or you dont seal it properly (again you think you have) and then they get a swim with you down a white water rapid where theyre bouncing around (even smashing against rocks) it definiately tests your equipment and IMO those cases people talk about can't always be relied apon.

Stuart
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