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Saturday, February 18, 2012

Apple Working on More Accurate Methods to Detect Water Damage in iOS Devices

AppleInsider has discovered a new patent application filed by Apple titled "Mechanisms for Detecting Exposure to Water in an Electronic Device" that indicates that it is actively working on more accurate methods to detect water damage in iOS devices.

Currently, Apple uses LSIs (Liquid Submersion Indicators) or LCIs (Liquid Contact Indicators) in their iOS devices like the iPhone, which turn from white or silver to pinkish red when they come in contact with the liquid. The sensors are used by Apple to determine whether the device has failed due to water damage. But according to AppleInsider, these sensors are not accurate and completely fool-proof, which at times results in Apple giving away a replacement for a water damaged iOS device, which isn't covered under warranty. This could help Apple save costs that it is currently incurring when it gives away a replacement device. Apple's patent proposes two possible solutions to address this issue. The first one is to use an "immersion detection mechanism". Apple describes an "immersion detection mechanism" included as part of the internal components of a device. This water sensor could be covered in a water-soluble conductive glue that would electrically insulate the gap between two conducting pieces. In the event that an iPhone or another device were to be submerged in water, this conductive glue would be permanently eroded by the water. The system would detect a change in impedance of the path, and would signal an alert to a data processor that would log water exposure events within the device.

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The second one also talks about a circuit-based method: Another potential method described by Apple involves several water sensors arranged and connected as a randomly accessible sensor array. A current can be passed through these conductive paths, and a change in impedance can be detected, which would signal an alert to a data processor that would log potential water damage events.

Click here to enlarge

It looks like Apple wants to save on the cost of replacing the iOS device by accurately finding out if the device was damaged by water, which is not covered by warranty.

We hope that Apple spends the time and energy in making their next generation iOS deices waterproof using technologies demonstrated by startups such as Hz0 and Liquipel so it would no longer need to figure out a more accurate solution to detect water damage and would be an ideal solution from a customer point of view as well. What do you think? Sound off in the comments.
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