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Damage Control: Durable devices will let gadget makers stand out

Philip Michaels | Jan. 14, 2013
Protection was very much on the mind of CES exhibitors this year--and not just when it comes to cases. Instead, third-party suppliers and even a few device makers want to make your devices more durable before they ever wind up in your hands.

You didn't have to walk very far on the showfloor at CES 2013 before you ran into someone who wanted to do some very serious damage to your smartphone.

Tech21 was ready to take a mallet to your phone. At the G-Form booth, death by bowling ball was the order of the day. And steer clear of the Invisible Phone Guard booth unless you've always wanted to see a phone used as a makeshift cutting board.

Protection was very much on the mind of CES exhibitors this year--and not just when it comes to cases. (Though as always, plenty of vendors could be found hawking assorted sleeves, snapcases, and other gear for stashing your smartphone.) Instead, third-party suppliers and even a few device makers want to make your devices more durable before they ever wind up in your hands.

"Handheld electronics have become such an integral part for everyone," said Felipe Pimineto of Drywired, which was showing off its nano-coating technology to protect mobile devices from accidents and spills. "Anything one can do to protect these devices, it's worth looking into." That meant companies like DryWired, Liquipel, and several others could be found around CES showcase technology that protects phones, tablets, and other gadgets from water damage.

Companies who weren't focusing on fighting off water damage instead spent CES trying to make devices more scratch-resistant. Corning took the wraps off a new version of Gorilla Glass--the second consecutive CES where the glass supplier has rolled out an update to the glass used in smartphones and tablets. This version boasts a three-times improvement in the amount of force required to make a crack. Gorilla Glass 3 also reduces the visibility of scratches and reduces the amount of residual stress throughout the glass. That makes the overall screen less likely to shatter the next time your phone or tablet absorbs a blow.

Device makers got into act as well with the torture tests. When showing off Huawei's Ascend Mate smartphone, the CEO of the company's consumer business group dumped a pitcher on top of it to highlight how water-resistant the new phone is. Similarly, Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai made specific mention of Xperia Z's ability to withstand a 30-minute dip in water after unveiling that phone. The Sony booth included a few fish bowls with submerged Xperia Z models.

Why the sudden focus on making mobile devices more durable? Because there are more of them out there in the hands of more people. A survey last year by the Pew Internet & American Life Project contends that nearly half of American adults own a smartphone; that same group says a quarter of American adults own a tablet of some sort.

 

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