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October 05, 2012

New Market Heating Up for Gadgets that Protect our Mobile Devices


As far back as I can remember, owning a mobile device – a beeper, a cell phone, a two-way and now a smartphone – always involved extra care to ensure that the valuable, pricey piece of equipment and my connection to social and business contacts was protected.

For a long time, the only way to really ensure no damage would happen to your device was to not take it with you. But in today’s world, where quite literally everything we do revolves around our mobile devices, this is simply no longer an option.

One of the worst experiences I had recently was dropping my phone into the ocean for only a split second and losing everything I had stored in it. Pictures, contact info, apps, everything – and nope, didn’t back up anything online.

Because people are investing so much of their money and their lives into their mobile devices, and because the risk of damaging them if not properly protected is so high, the market for gadgets that protect our mobile devices is really heating up.

These new offerings guarantee that if you drop it hard to the floor, your phone won’t shatter. Or that humidity from the gym won’t cause water damage that the warranty will not cover.

And there are a ton of options out there. Daring reviewers are posting their videos testing out whether or not the claims of these gadgets are true. Thankfully for us worry-warts, this means watching someone else try it out instead of doing so on our own.

One company in particular that made quite the splash when it introduced its Waterproof iPhone (News - Alert) case, LifeProof, is capitalizing on this rising trend and continues to introduce new products that let users remove the fear of bringing their mobile device with them wherever they may want to go (literally).

The San Diego, Calif.-based company boasts cases and accessories that are waterproof, dustproof, snow-proof and shock-proof. That’s a mouthful. And a lot of promises to fulfill.

But according to the company’s website, it can offer this kind of protection because its cases are tested to military specifications (MIL-STD-810F-516.5), meaning they can survive being dropped from a height of 6.6 feet onto concrete, and are also waterproof to a depth of 6.6 feet.

One downfall to some of these protective gadgets is having to keep them on all the time. But what about those headphones or armbands for the gym? Pretty hard to get an accessory made to fit a naked iPhone onto one with any kind of a protective cover on it.

LifeProof’s latest push has been to offer even more accessories to its growing fan base, so they can still take the device with them, full protected and enjoy the luxury of using additional accessories.

Aside from offering its own armband accessories to strap your LifeProof protected iPhone to your arm, the company also offers a Bike + Bar mount for anyone looking to take an adventure out onto the road or down a snow-covered trail. After all, what good is a navigation app if you have to worry about your phone getting lost or damaged as you make your way through varying weather conditions?

And while watching videos shot underwater with a LifeProof protected iPhone is fun, the company also offers a chance for users to take their phone into the water with them and not have to keep holding it in their hands for fear of it just sinking to the bottom. The LifeProof LifeJacket can be used when swimming, fishing, sailing, on a Jet Ski ride, at work sites, and even by search and rescue teams, because it’s perfectly buoyant.

I had a chance to ask CEO Gary Rayner a few questions about the company and why the market for their protective gadgets is so hot right now.

Rayner said the growing demand for iPhone's worldwide is providing millions of consumers with connectivity on a multi-functional device. Therefore, making the iPhone usable in all environments and protecting a high-value investment are becoming key drivers in a burgeoning market. 

But what makes LifeProof stick out from all the other options out there?

“Consumers want to take their iPhone's everywhere,” he said. “While many vendors sell 'skins' and cases for aesthetic value or to provide varying degrees of drop and scratch protection, LifeProof is the only company that offers a fully environmentally protective waterproof and dustproof case that is designed for everyday use.”

To get more technical, Rayner explained that LifeProof invented manufacturing processes and latching mechanisms, combined with use of specialized materials and membranes, to enable a high degree of protection in a small package. This technology allows air pressure to equalize and sound to get in and out of the case without allowing water to enter when submerged.

In addition, the company developed new manufacturing methods to mold the shock absorptive rubber over the screen membrane, and new plastic material compositions had to be created that would provide the stringent shock absorptive profile and capabilities required to meet Military Specifications.

What does all that mean? “The combination of all of this technology allows LifeProof to maintain full IP-68 international rating protection that allows use of the iPhone case at a depth of two meters (6.6 feet) underwater and full MIL-SPEC shock and impact protection even if dropped onto concrete from two meters,” Rayner told TMCnet.

Rayner also said there are new places to expand into, and LifeProof plans to venture there as well.

While the company is currently focused on rapid expansion, both domestically and internationally, Rayner did say that LifeProof will soon be announcing a variety of accessories for the iPad case to make it even more convenient to use the iPad in any situation. This includes a floating LifeJacket for the iPad case or a Strap Pack to attach carrying or hand straps to the case.

As this market continues to heat up, it’ll be interesting to watch the competition and innovative ideas take form.

Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Austin 2012, happening now in Austin, TX. Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.




Edited by Braden Becker
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