Hoping for a waterproof iPhone 5 later this summer? A recent patent uncovered by AppleInsider could mean that Apple is throwing cold water on the concept. New immersion detection sensors are described that would more accurately determine when a device was damaged by water.
Current Liquid Submersion Indicators found on Apple products simply turn red after they come into contact with water. This has caused problems as even a high level of humidity can sometimes trigger the indicator to turn a different color. The patent describes an improved method that would use water-soluble glue.
A network of sensors within an iPod touch, iPhone or iPad would be electrified and linked using this glue, which would pass electrical current. Should one of the glued areas come in contact with water, this would wash away the glue and result in a change of impedance that could be measured. Each exposure to water could be measured and logged on the device.
Apple's goal is to reduce AppleCare replacements for devices that were damaged by water. This kind of damage is not normally covered by standard warranties, however if the current water indicators did not register the contact or employees don't see evidence of water damage the company ends up paying for a replacement device anyway.Of course, if Apple waterproofs its devices at the point of manufacture all of these water detection sensors are a moot point. One day it might be that the few places where iPhones are not currently used, including the shower or swimming pool are no longer off limits.