Cleaning your smartphone has always been a desirable goal albeit one rarely carried out. Kyocera is launching in Japan the world's first smartphone that can be washed with soap. The hygiene campaigns to promote "wash your hands" may now add "and your smartphone" to the slogan. How does this work and who needs it? Is there a market for smartphones that can be washed with soap?
Wash me thoroughly
Kyocera has taken the demand to heart and, when it comes to smartphones, came up with a device that can take exactly that: thorough washing. Digno Rafre is the world's first smartphone that can be washed with soap. This is a level of cleanliness that we can only dream of with our existing smartphones.
The promotion video and the bright vivid colors point to a product designed for kids.
Add to this a rubber duck floating dock and you get the picture of an elaborate toy that can get dirty quite often in children's hands.
The reaction to the news from around the world suggests though, a very adult enthusiasm for the idea. The touch interface of the smartphone transformed the way we interact with the Internet, but also brought a huge bacterial culture right under our noses. The presence of bacteria on smartphones is normal for frequently touched surfaces in domestic or public spaces. The problem is how often we touch the devices and the fact that we bring them so close to our faces.
Health risks with smartphone use
The exact health risks associated with the smartphone use are still under investigation. On a common sense approach, we should treat our smartphones, from a hygiene point of view, the same as our hands. We do encourage ourselves and others to wash our hands regularly and the same should be done with the smartphones.
There are cleaning options available right now and, for the time being, we encourage you to use them until you get a soap washing smartphone. The usual cleaning options are dry microfiber cloths and alcohol-impregnated wipes.
Coming back to the soap washing smartphone, the question is, how does this work? And why is this such a big deal? First of all, for Japan, almost all smartphones sold nowadays are waterproof. This takes care of accidental spills, but it will not protect the smartphone from the kind of scrubbing and splashing associated with a proper soap wash.
How did Kyocera manage to build a waterproof smartphone?
Kyocera made a cryptic reference that it provides "better sealing". What we do know is that we have in Digno Rafre a technology, used already in Kyocera Urbano Progresso, that eliminates the need for a speaker. The sound is transmitted through the body and through the air in the ear canal, through vibration, and provides better sound when talking on the phone in noisy spaces. The elimination of a classical speaker solves a major sealing problem. Another technical improvement is the hot water resistance. Digno Rafre can withstand temperatures of up to 110° Fahrenheit (43° Celsius).
Would you buy a smartphone that you can wash with soap?
The phone is released through the carrier KDDI for about $465 next Friday, December 11. We are curious to see how the smartphone will sell in Japan. Will it become a children's device or, driven by hygiene minded adults, will it cover a larger spectrum of consumers?
What would you do? Would you rather buy it for a kid or for yourself? Let me know in comments below.