More than a few companies are taking up the fight against waterlogged gadgets (heck, there was one at ShowStoppers last night) but California-based Liquipel has quickly become one of the most interesting.
The company announced yesterday that it tweaked its formula to create an even more effective 2.0 version of its water-resistant nanocoating, but they’ve done much more than just that. What seems way more compelling is that the company unveiled its 4′x 4′ Liquipod treatment machine, which is small enough to nanocoat people’s hardware just about anywhere.
Liquipel already has a bit of experience with this sort of thing — in addition to treating devices at its home base in Santa Ana, California, it opened up its own retail location in Hong Kong back in September at which a much larger version of the nanocoating device is the star of the show. The first Liquipod is slated to make its debut in yet another Liquipel-branded store that’s slated to open its doors in February in the West Edmonton Mall in Canada. With any luck that’s only the beginning — CEO Kevin Bacon (yes, really) intimated to TechCrunch at a small event earlier this year that the company was working on a slew of retail partnerships as well.
Sure, a key part of Liquipel’s retail push will be its own retail outlets, but the small size of the new Liquipod makes the notion of opening up standalone kiosks inside malls and other stores surprisingly feasible. Though Bacon wouldn’t talk much about the nature of the talks he’s been having (or, naturally, who he’s been having them with), the general concept is that interested stores will be able to lease a Liquipod from the company and charge consumers roughly $60 to have their devices treated right in front of them. All after-care will be handled by Liquipel directly, and they’ve got quite a warranty here — they’ll replace any treated device that gets fouled up by liquid. Representatives on the floor here at CES admitted that the company was looking to be in “hundreds of stores” in the United States in 2014, with the first of those stores getting Liquipods in late 2013.
Of course, there are some caveats. For all the upgrades that Liquipel has made to its coating, they still won’t treat any ol’ device the coating can’t reliably be applied to devices with physical keyboards (sorry BlackBerry fans), and it doesn’t magically turn your iPhone into a submarine capable of long-term jaunts undersea. All that said though, this could prove to be a very lucrative turn for Liquipel… so long as they strike the right retail deals.
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