Generally speaking, water and electricity don’t mix.
However, relationships between H2O and technology are evolving as more of our favourite items (think smartphones, smartwatches, action cameras…) become increasingly water-capable. No stranger to innovation, Anker has also dipped its toes into the pool with new water-friendly audio equipment.
Let’s investigate further…
One of the first key pieces of information to consider with water and tech is Ingress Protection, commonly abbreviated to IP. Established by the International Electrotechnical Commission, IP is a universal standard whereby electrical products are tested for their water-resistance, or lack thereof.
IP ratings start from IPX0 (don’t even think about it…) and go up to IPX8 (yes please, lots…). These tests involve soaking devices with calculated amounts of water, from a calculated distance, at a calculated pressure, for a calculated period of time. Calculated. From devices’ performance we can then ascertain an IP number.
In some cases, X will be replaced with another digit – this refers to dustproofing. Dustproofing goes up to 6 on the scale, therefore IP68 is Bear Grylls of the dust /water arena. Sounds messy.
Water-Resistant vs. Waterproof
The second major distinction is between water-resistant and waterproof. Although open to debate, water-resistant implies that an item can handle a degree of moisture (e.g. rain), but usually isn’t designed specifically for use in aquatic environments.
Waterproof on the other hand tends to imply an item can be submerged in water and perform its job admirably, these products are usually designed for use in or around water. Most consumer tech items categorize into the former – your phone and camera can probably survive a soaking in a pocket, but don’t go throwing them into a canal (especially if you’ve not had your vaccinations).
For the most part, industry distinction between water-resistant and waterproof occurs on the border of IPX6 and IPX7, when a product transitions from being able to sustain running water, to withstand full immersion.
Music, music everywhere
Music is becoming evermore present in our lives thanks to technological advances. Nielsen5 reports that Americans consume 25 hours of music a week, from queueing in the supermarket to driving to work.
Listening to our favourite devices underwater remains a long way off, not least because we hear sound differently in air and underwater. Instead, waterproof tech is seen by many as a form of guarantee for those expensive electrical items that we invest heavily in and is a welcome safety-net for many users.
Anker has recently released the showcase Bluetooth 4.1 earbuds, SoundBuds Sport NB10. The NB10s feature an IPX5 water-resistant shell and internal nano-coating, providing a double layer of water protection.
As well as adrenaline junkies, NB10s are ideal for owners of the iPhone 7.
Apple’s decision to remove the headphone jack will inevitably see iPhone owners, and music fans in general migrating towards wireless earbuds.
At IPX5, the NB10s are at a very respectable water-resistant standard, and will laugh off anything you throw at them during normal usage – be it sweat from a hard workout, or lashings of rain from that jog in the thunderstorm. Anything short of taking them for a dip in the pool, or a few cycles in the washing machine and you’ll be fine.
Perhaps Anker HQ’s favourite speaker right now is the brand new SoundCore Sport XL, which has been labelled ‘a perfect beach speaker’ and ‘the ideal pool companion’ due to its portability and dustproof, shockproof, waterproof performance. The speaker is optimized for the outdoors; built to withstand punishment… and sounds great while doing it.
The speaker is officially waterproof (IP67), which under IP categorisation means it can withstand submersion in up to 1m of water for up to 30 minutes.
We turned to some of our Top Tech Bods to find out how they accomplish waterproofing while maintaining high-quality audio…
Us: Waterproof Speakers, eh? Whatever’s next, chocolate teapots? Top Tech Bod: We make the SoundCore Sport XL waterproof using a plethora of innovative techniques. First of all we create physical barriers for the water like sealing covers and double-injection molding. Some of the internal components themselves are also waterproof. Us: It seems as though there are more products coming out these days which can handle water. What does the future hold for waterproof tech? Top Tech Bod: There’s a lot of innovation going on right now for sure; for example nanometer spray, micrometer spray and new waterproof components. More complex products than ever are being released with water capabilities. I think there are exciting times ahead.
With an increasing number of water-friendly technology products emerging – from the Samsung Galaxy S7 to the Fitbit, the tech industry is clearly leaning towards more and more water-resistant and waterproof equipment. Whether this is a fad or a new gold-standard remains to be seen, but current innovation is certainly impressive and holds interesting potential.
What Anker products would you like to see given the water-resistant/waterproof treatment?
What tech products do you think still need to be adapted to the rigour of our daily lives?
Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org