Golden Shellback Hands-on: Phones Can Make Calls While Underwater

I just got to play with a phone that had been waterproofed using the Golden Shellback technology, and it was pretty amazing, not to mention legit. In the video above, Golden Shellback inventor Sid Martin took a Golden Shellbacked BB Pearl, started a call, dropped it in a glass of ice water, and it all worked without a hitch.

The amazing thing about Golden Shellback is how normal the modified phone looked and felt. There was no trace of residue, or added bulk because of the waterproofing process. The only way to tell it's been Shellbacked is to drop it in water.


Martin elaborated on the Shellbacking process a little more, explaining that a liquid is heated up into a gas, and is applied to the gadget in a vacuum. The gas reforms and bonds on the gadget surfaces as a deposit. But that's as far as Martin would explain, because of patents that hadn't been finalized.

That said, the process still has a couple of kinks. Temperature still seems to be a factor as the scroll ball on the BB Pearl wonked out upon removal from ice water. But Martin emphasized that despite the water submersion demos, Golden Shellback is meant more as a splashproofing solution, rather than an all-out waterproofer. Aside from the scroll ball, everything else worked fine.


Martin also spoke on a few of the reader concerns, such as how they work around connections like the headphone jacks and the apparent "bubbling" seen on the screen of the iPod touch demo. When a gadget is Shellbacked, ports and connectors are masked, and therefore aren't protected by Golden Shellback. Martin says its not crucial to waterproof those areas, since the focus is more on splashproofing, and that the gadget should still work underwater anyways.

As far as the iPod touch demo where the screen looked like it had a covering on it, Martin didn't have a definite answer. His only theories were that the iPod touch was an early test unit, and finger oils left from touching could have played a role.

Looking into the future, Golden Shellback has big plans. Outside of consumer electronics, they're talking with researchers in medical fields who are looking to waterproof things such as cochlear implants. In terms of availability, they'd like to have the service available to consumers in less than six months, but it all depends on finding the right distribution model. They've been in talks with retailers, and are also interested in working directly with handset manufacturers.

Eric Dawicki, present of Golden Shellback's parent company, Northeast Maritime Communications, also expressed interest in creating their own rugged cellphone that would utilize Golden Shellback technology. I think Golden Shellback is something to keep your eyes on in the coming months. [Golden Shellback]


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@LVMHCorporate: Exactly why I still think something's hinky. There's too many caveats with ports, SD slots, batteries, headphone jacks, etc, that this stuff either protects and disables, or doesn't protect and it gets wet and rusts. Or that's not water— it's some sort of non-conductive liquid. I want to see a video, one long shot, drop the phone in, make it ring underwater, then someone take a big drink of it.