The Redux brings your soaked smartphone back to life with clever science

redux phone dryer rsz sc cons 0305 tech 20150305
It happens to the best of us. One minute you’re casually walking poolside, sipping a cold libation from one hand and balancing a smartphone in the other. You’re chatting up your besties and living life to its fullest. Nothing could possibly go wrong, you think. And the next minute you’re watching your phone tumble towards a watery grave.

It used to be that waterlogged smartphones were lost causes, but there’s a new device that promises to bring them back from the dead. It’s called Redux, and it’s the brainchild of company co-founder and COO Reuben Zielinksi.

The impetus, Zielinksi told Digital Trends, was a significant other’s broken phone. “[Co-founder] Joey Trusty’s wife went to do laundry in our front-load washer and didn’t realize she’d left her smartphone in a pants pocket until after it was washed,” he said. “She went to the mobile phone store and they told her there was nothing she could do.”

Zielinksi, an engineer by trade, sought the advice of a fellow designer. The two put their heads together and formulated a solution: A vacuum-powered heater that will eliminate moisture by reducing the air pressure inside the chamber, thereby lowering the boiling point of water. “In standard conditions, you can’t apply 212 degrees to a device, or it would melt,” TCC Acount Manager James Shrake told The New Dispatch.

This is a process in science that allows you to lower the boiling point of water. It’s so far below 212 degrees that it doesn’t harm the device.

They went to work, building and machining in Zielinksi’s basement. After a week of prototyping, the pair managed to produce an early proof of concept: A 70-lb. box “not quite as loud as a lawnmower.”

The Redux, now in its eighth generation, has come a long way. The commercial version is constructed of polycarbonate and measures about the size of a Laserjet printer. It weighs 75 lbs., sports the same glass used to make bulletproof car windows, and is “designed to fit every smartphone there is,” Zielinksi said (there’s an extra-large version of the machine for tablets in development). A rectangular bed houses the phone for the duration of the drying process, and an electronic screen indicates the progress.

redux phone dryer rsz 35547429001 4001222621001 trim 1921c45a c2d6 4027 8b54 428091c09eb3 vs

It’s built to run continuously for at least three years.

Drying is relatively straightforward, as the team demonstrated in our Manhattan office. Zielinksi dropped a dry iPhone 6S into a full pitcher of water, fished it out, then placed the drenched phone inside a Redux unit and initiated a drying cycle. Then we waited.

The Redux’s underlying technology — vacuum drying — isn’t new. Zielinski said it’s been around since the 1940s. However, the Redux applies intelligence to the process, which was lacking in devices that came before it. It measures the moisture level of the smartphone by gauging the drying chamber’s humidity and applies algorithms to ensure a baseline dryness.

And Redux’s analytics platform applies machine learning techniques to drying. Units connect to cloud servers via Wi-Fi and send information about the types of phones dried, the length of time each dry took to compete, and real-time moisture and humidity levels. It’s all viewable on a Bluetooth-paired iPhone or iPad, Zielinksi said.

And about 84 percent of the time, the end result is a working smartphone. The process takes between 25 minutes to an hour to complete, Zielinksi said, and he cautioned that the Redux won’t reverse the effects of water damage or electrical shortage. But it can make data recovery feasible in situations it might not have been otherwise — dried phones that haven’t been turned on or plugged in after they’ve come into contact with water usually boot up.

“The damage isn’t caused by water,” Zielinksi said. “It’s caused by water and electricity that can go through the device.”

That’s enough for most people. Typically, Redux customers are hoping to recover photos, videos, and contacts they haven’t backed up elsewhere, Zielinksi said. “It’s usually someone who’s passed away,” he said. “You can’t replicate a mother-in-law’s recording or your father’s picture.

Zielinksi said the technology’s too expensive and unwieldy to mass produce. Instead, the company’s partnered with The Cellular Connection’s chain of over 700 Verizon Wireless reseller stores to sell phone drying packages. A diagnostic starts at $10, and a successful drying costs extra. Those with insurance get a discount: $40 for policyholders and $90 (for a smartphone) or $50 (for a basic phone) for those uninsured. A $30-per-month option covers two drying attempts in a two-year coverage period.

Eventually, Zielinksi plans to lease the machine to big box retailers and even automakers, where he envisions uses broader than just smartphones and tablets. Redux units could dry drenched smartwatches, hearing aids, or key fobs at hundreds of service departments and electronics stores throughout the country. And the company could sell additional subscription tiers for an unlimited number of drying cycles each month.

“People won’t mind paying a little more for a service that’ll dry their phone back to health,” Zielinksi said. “They can sit in a waiting room, wait for 20 to 30 minutes, and be in and out in no time.”

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: DIY smartphones and zip-on bike tires

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Get your head in the clouds with the best vaporizers for flower and concentrates

Why combust dead plant matter when you could vaporize the good stuff and leave the leaves behind? Here's a rundown of the best vaporizers money can buy, no matter what your style is.
Smart Home

Put away that sponge and let us help you pick the best dishwasher for your buck

Tired of doing dishes by hand? Take a look at our picks of the four best dishwashers currently available and let a machine do the dirty work for you. They’ll do a much better job, anyway.

Can't see all of a sudden? Our quick guide on defogging your car windows

Did you suddenly lose exterior visibility while driving because of foggy windows? Don't panic! Here's our quick guide on defogging your car windows in a safe manner while on the go, and a few steps on how to prevent them.
Emerging Tech

Here’s all the best gear and gadgetry you can snag for $100 or less

A $100 bill can get you further than you might think -- so long as you know where to look. Check out our picks for the best tech under $100, whether you're in the market for headphones or a virtual-reality headset.

OnePlus charges into U.K. carrier stores, leaving online-only start in the past

OnePlus's next phone, the OnePlus 6T, will be more widely available than any OnePlus phone before it, as the company has announced major deals with retailers in the U.K. The device launches on October 30.
Product Review

The all-new Palm wants to be many things, but it’s really just a tiny smartphone

The all-new Palm is here, and it’s tinier than ever. Exclusive to Verizon, it syncs to your primary smartphone and acts as a secondary device -- with features to help you disconnect from technology. But at $350, is it worth the high price…

The Palm has been revived, and it wants to help you limit your smartphone usage

A reboot of the classic Palm is finally here and it's tiny. It syncs to your phone and acts as a secondary device -- with a feature to help you disconnect from technology. At $350, the Palm will be available exclusively through Verizon.

Adobe is bringing Photoshop to the iPad and, eventually, other tablets

A full version of Photoshop is coming to the iPad -- and soon, other tablets, as well. Adobe also launched several new features for Photoshop and Lightroom, including a new Content-Aware Fill tool.

The Huawei Mate 20 may come with a massive 40W charger

Huawei is no stranger when it comes to big phones. And this year it plans to go even bigger with the Huawei Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro. Here's what we think we know about the new range.
Home Theater

Dish Network or DirecTV: Which is the better choice for you?

So, you’ve chosen to go with a satellite television provider. Check out our quick rundown of what both Dish Network and DirecTV offer in terms of content, hardware, and pricing, and why you might choose them over streaming services.

Upcoming iPad may lose a few millimeters, along with its headphone jack

The new iPhone XS, iPhone XR, and Apple Watch aren't the last devices we'll see from Apple in 2018. There are plenty of rumors about a new iPad coming this year too, and it may share some design similarities with the new phones.
Product Review

Mediocre battery and a big notch slight Google's otherwise perfect Pixel phone

Google’s Pixel 3 XL has two big flaws: The gigantic notch on the front, and mediocre battery life. That being said, this is the best Android experience you can find in a smartphone today.
Product Review

Google’s Pixel 3 is a hair away from pocket-sized perfection

Google’s Pixel 3 smartphone is the best Android phone you can buy. It doesn’t have the best looks or the best hardware, but you’ll be hard pressed to find better software and unique A.I. functionalities.