12 Tech Days Of Christmas 2011

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LifeProof Swimming Headphone Adapter: Taking Your Tunes into the Yule Pool

By Jacqueline Emigh


Here’s a question that might whet your curiosity whether you prefer a shower or a bath, and regardless of whether you’re training to be an Olympic swimmer. Is it really possible to listen to music on an iPhone while taking a bath without watching your phone, and even when swimming underwater? Actually, a company called LifeProof says so.


Traditionally, cell phones and other consumer electronics (CE) devices have mixed with water like — well, like oil and water (or a whole lot worse). With the advent of the smartphone, though, protective cases have come along that promise to safeguard a phone against puddles, snowstorms, dirt, and hard knocks on to the floor (or even a concrete sidewalk.) Now, LifeProof is trying to take resilience against water a few leagues further with its new Swimming Headphone Adapter.


LifeProof Swimming Headphone AdapterBack in the day when Baby Boomers grew up, people got routinely electrocuted if their transistor radios — when plugged into a wall socket — fell into the bathtub. These days, you aren’t about to croak if your smartphone meets the same fate, but your phone might fizzle out forever.


Maybe you have your own sad story about drowning a phone. Personally, I can attest to the heartbreak. Although I’ve never dropped a smartphone into a tub (or put one through the wash in the pocket of my jeans, either), I was forced to bid a regretful farewell to my original Droid phone after mistakenly placing it on a counter top that happened to be very wet. Unfortunately, home remedies like drying the phone with a hairdryer and putting it in a Tupperware container with rice on top didn’t do a thing to save the Droid. But..


With the march of progress around protective case technology, vendors are now touting “water proofness” as opposed to mere “water resistance” for their products (although claims vary as to how long the phone can be under water and the depth at which it can be submerged).


In adding audio listening to the underwater equation, LifeProof pledges on its Web site that your can “Relax in the bath while catching up on your audio-books,”…or even “do laps in the pool while listening to your workout routine.” Also according to the company, you can “surf on your iPhone” (in the waves, rather than on the Web, or possibly both?) “while listening to the “Peppers.”


Tubs, Suds and Tunes


As a journalist, I have what I see as a healthy amount of skepticism about vendor claims. I’m not from Missouri, but I like people to “show me.” Probably, you do, too.


With the demise of my original Droid, I recently graduated to a contemporary Android OS model. I am not an iPhone user, and — for the moment, at least — LifeProof only makes protective gear for Apple products. Even if I did own an iPhone, I doubt I’d be willing to jump into a swimming pool along with my phone just to see whether the LifeProof case really works. Would you?


I have seen a demo of the LifeCase at a trade show, but it only consisted of plunging the iPhone for a couple of minutes into a jar containing a few inches of water, which may not be the best trial by fire (or water).


If you’re a venturesome type, though, and you’d like to give this product a go, you’ll need an iPhone, a LifeProof case, and a set of headphones from either Apple or a third-party vendor. (LifeProof cautions, however, that the swimming adapter doesn’t allow for use of the earphone inline microphone and button controls when the phone is submerged).


Alternatively, if you happen to have an iPod Shuffle on hand, you might want to check out the H20 Audio Interval Waterproof Case and Headphone System, a product billed as offering similar underwater listening functionality to that Apple device.


Price: $19.95 (presently for Apple iPhone only)
Website: www.lifeproof.com

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