Gadgets: Nature’s cool trick to beat water

Our story of building a waterproof gadget.

Back in November 2014, when we were designing the Yoky Tag, we were very sure that our product should be water proof. After all, who would want to be worried about another gadget getting wet. If you don’t know what the Yoky Tag is, it’s a small device that you can attach to your things like keys, wallet or handbag and use your smartphone to find your tagged items. You can find out more here

So, (after that brief advertisement) we went about it in the traditional route, by trying to seal it off as well as we could. We made different prototypes with rubber and glue sealants. Things seemed to work for a while but water has this knack of getting in eventually, and once its in, poof! it short circuits the electronics. In fact, even the best IP68 phones can last only upto 30 mins in water. Given time water gets through everything, even the impervious Grand Canyon.

As we were improving the sealing mechanisms, we were creating a bigger problem. Sealing muffles the internal speakers. For a device like Yoky Tag, which is meant to alert you when you leave your phone behind, or help you locate your things, this was deal breaker! So we needed to build a product that had holes for sound and was still waterproof!

The Lotus Effect

Water bouncing off a lotus leaf

It turns out nature has already solved this problem. The lotus leaf is a prime example where water never sticks to the surface of the leaf. In fact water droplets bounce off the leaf, and as an added bonus, the rolling water droplets clean the leaf for better photosynthesis. How does it work? The lotus leaf has very small nano-scale wax coated bumps on its surface, that never allow water droplets to touch the leaf. Is there a way we can replicate nature’s trick?

This is where the beauty of nanotechnology comes in. Scientists have figured out how create the same effect for man-made materials through coatings and sprays that build nano-tubes on the surface of clothes, shoes, and yes, electronics.

Standing on the shoulders of giants, we incorporated this water repellent technology into the Yoky Tag and we now had a gadget that’s both loud and water resistant! Here’s a quick video of how water behaves on the yoky tag.

Watching water behave like this in real life is awesome. But what’s more exciting is that we are not far from a day when we needn’t worry about our phones and computers getting wet and we can even use them under water! Rapid advances are being made in the field of nanotechnology, watch this video below to see the range of possibilities :)

This article is light on technical specifics, write to us if you want to know more

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