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: Write music with your voice, make homemade cheese

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!
Smart Home

Is your Keurig making gross coffee? Might be time for a cleaning

No one likes a dirty, scaled, or smelly Keurig, but how are you supposed to clean them? Before you throw yours out the window, here is a quick guide on cleaning your machine out thoroughly.
Smart Home

Whatever happened to those dumb smart products we wrote about in 2017?

A smart salt dispenser? As manufacturers rush to get the next new smart item out there, we wonder if all these new inventions are really necessary. Here’s a list of 10 of the quirkiest home smart gadgets available, and where they are now.
Home Theater

IPX what? The electronics water- and dust-resistance rating explained

Increasingly, consumer electronics companies are using an IPX code to demonstrate that their products are water and dust resistant. But what does this IPX code mean? We break it all down and walk you through it.
Mobile

Safeguard your Sony Xperia 10 smartphone with one of these cases

If you're looking for some protection to keep your Sony smartphone safe, or you want a different style, we've got you covered here with a list of the best Sony Xperia 10 cases. There are clear cases, rugged cases, wallet cases, and more.
Product Review

Sony's Xperia 10 falls frustratingly short of budget brilliance

Better know for premium products, Sony does also have a budget smartphone range, but can the Sony Xperia 10 compete with great cheap phones from Nokia and Motorola? We put it through its paces to find out how it measures up.
Mobile

Sony's Xperia 10 smartphone boasts a 6-inch screen and is now available

Sony took the wraps off of three new phones at Mobile World Congress 2019, including the new Xperia 1, which is the company's new flagship phone and the first with a 4K OLED display with a 21:9 aspect ratio.
Mobile

FCC to help first responders pinpoint 911 callers in multistory buildings

When someone calls 911 from their cell phone, wireless carriers provide operators with an approximate location. Now the FCC wants the carriers to provide vertical location data to pinpoint 911 callers inside multi-story buildings.
Mobile

Latest Samsung Galaxy smartphone will pop up on April 10

Samsung will show at least one new Galaxy phone off on April 10, it has confirmed in a teaser tweet. The Galaxy A90 may make its first appearance, and it's rumored to have a pop-up camera and a notch-less screen.
Mobile

Leaked ZTE concept phones are crazy, possibly fake, and totally worth seeing

Renders of what may be ZTE concept phones may show how the manufacturer could avoid using the notch on future devices. They're crazy -- and maybe not even real -- but they're definitely worth looking at.
Mobile

The iPad Mini, Apple’s tiny tablet, makes a return with powerful specs

Apple has finally revealed the iPad Mini. With all-new and upgraded specs, support for the Apple Pencil, and a fantastically inclusive price, here's everything you need to know about the iPad Mini.
Mobile

The Apple iPad Air is the power-packed tablet for everyone

The iPad Air is the less serious cousin to Apple's iPad Pro range, and it's the perfect addition to your coffee table. But it's no less powerful. Here's everything you need to know about the iPad Air.
Mobile

Get excited for your Sony Xperia 10 or 10 Plus by getting it set up just right

If you've picked up one of the Sony's more affordable smartphones, you may be be wondering what hidden depths lie within. We've got some handy Sony Xperia 10 tips for you here to help you get to grips with your new phone.
Deals

This is the one thing you need to do before giving your child a smart phone or tablet

Monitoring your kids' digital habits can be a challenge in today’s high-tech age, but great parental control software like Qustodio gives parents a much-needed advantage Read on to find out how you can protect your child from online…