Nano coating technology splash proofs our IoT future

Ady Moores, CEO of P2i

As a consumer of technology, which devices do you currently expect or require to be water resistant? Whilst you may not answer this question with devices such as your laptop or desktop computer, it is more likely that you will add your smartphone into this category.

Water resistant gadgets and smartphones have, of course, already been around for a number of years, but until very recently many consumers have had to pay a considerable premium for this added value feature. However, consumer expectations and the perceived needs that users have when it comes to protecting their personal and business devices against liquid ingress are changing rapidly.

For example, both Samsung and Apple started to incorporate liquid protection into their flagship smartphones in 2016, with the arrival of both the iPhone 7 and Galaxy S7 marking a sea change in what mainstream users expect of a smartphone.

Plus, a YouGov survey revealed that, following battery life and shatterproof screens, water resistance was the next major feature that positively influenced consumers’ buying decisions when investing in a new smartphone.

Nano coating tech boom continues

So it’s little surprise that the latest research from Zion Market Research indicates that the demand for waterproofing and, specifically, for nano coating technologies from the consumer and business electronics industry is going to continue to boom over the next two years.

Manufacturers are rapidly waking up to the multiple uses and added value that nano coating devices can offer, which is exactly why worldwide demand is set to grow by nearly a quarter of a million year on year. The latest estimates on the global market for nano coating are projected to be worth a phenomenal $6.85 billion by 2020.

And despite market leaders such as Samsung and Apple leading the way, there is a long road ahead to incorporate nano coating into the majority of devices. IDC revealed that, following shattered screens, liquid damage was the second most common cause of handset damage and accounted for over a third of all smartphone repairs (35 per cent).

Following the revelations in that report, analysts at IDC also predicted a ‘seismic shift’ in the use, research and development of nano coating technologies, largely because “water-resistant handsets are the fastest-growing segment in the smartphone category”.

How nano coating technology works

Importantly, it is not only the smartphones and consumer devices markets driving this surge in demand for nano coatings. Reliability, durability and water-resistance will all be key requirements of the many millions of IoT sensors and devices that we will see incorporated into our everyday lives over the next five to ten years; those ubiquitous sensors powering connected cars, smart cities and M2M connectivity throughout almost every industry. So what does nano coating technology actually entail?

Unlike past technological solutions based around attempts to physically seal a device to keep water out and prevent liquid damage, nano coating is a low-pressure deposition process that treats the complete device, be it a smartphone or an IoT sensor for domestic or industrial use. This process itself coats the device both inside and out with a nano-scale monomer, chemically bonded to the product surfaces.

The impact of nano coating technology and its widespread reduction of water ingress and corrosion across consumer and IoT products can create a reduction in the number of repairs and replacements for both consumers and manufacturers.  With this, significant cost-savings can be achieved and provide positive financial returns for both parties.  Finally, as many IoT and connected device manufacturers are now starting to adopt this technology with ease and with little impact to their existing design and production processes, nano coating proves to be both an extremely cost-effective way to speed up the delivery of water resistant devices and is a technology that can be applied in multiple use case scenarios.

Whether it is up-specing higher end consumer smartphones and other personal gadgets, through to being rapidly and efficiently applied to lower-end IoT devices in high volumes to provide all-weather protection, nano coating is splash proofing our IoT future.

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