Waterproof iPhone cases are a dime a dozen. So are shockproof cases and those that keep out dirt and debris. In 2009, a company called LifeProof repurposed technology used in black boxes on ambulances and airplanes to make a case that aim to protect from all of the above — and look sexy to boot.
LifeProof founder and CEO Gary Rayner made his first appearance at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market this year, touting cases he said cost more than $2 million to develop and are so popular he's adding a second factory in Taiwan to keep pace with demand.
“When you’re hiking and things, you want to get out there and live your life free from concern of wanting to protect your iPhones, iPad and iPod,” Rayner said.
Learning from life
Rayner himself has lost more than a few phones, may they rest in pieces.
“I was killing phones by dropping them and breaking them,” Rayner said. And thanks to some precious little people, some even spent their last few moments in a bathtub. “I thought, ‘This is crazy. I’m spending so much of my time worrying about protecting the phone instead of living my life.’ That’s when I thought the phone needed to be LifeProof — it had to be proof to anything that happens in life.”
Thus Rayner embarked on his journey of designing a case to do just that. He tested one after another, a process that was hardly mishap-free.
“There were about seven fatalities,” he said, “but we just had to push the boundaries and figure out what would it actually take, doing the work so nobody had to worry about their phone.”
Then he found the right combination of technology and went to production, quickly applying for 25 patents for the design.
“Making a product like this is very, very difficult, extremely risky and costly,” Rayner said.
‘The Four Proofs’
Rayner said his products protect your gadgets from the four most common causes of their peril: water, snow, shock and dirt. He calls this concept “the four proofs.”
“The biggest challenge you have with using your phone when you’re outdoors and you’re trying incorporate it into your active lifestyle, is these things aren’t made for that outdoor environment,” Rayner said.
The product has gained momentum and currently the company is unable to meet demand, but with the new factory being built in Taiwan, Rayner said it should be able to within six months. He emphasized that all cases are extensively tested underwater to make sure they are up to snuff for hard-core customers.
Among the products from LifeProof’s LifeProof in Motion are a belt clip (MSRP $29.99), bike mount (MSRP $39.99), armband/swim band (MSRP $49.99) and the LifeProof adapter for GoPro mounts (MSRP 29.99).
The last product allows users to attach their iPhone in its LifeProof Case to their helmets or mountain bikes to film outdoor adventures with an iPhone. The bike mount lets users use GPS services on the phones and the armband/swimband allows users to use phones (with waterproof headphones) during training while swimming or running. And then there's the company’s LifeJacket iPhone case, which Rayner claims can make an iPhone virtually indestructible, even when thrown from a 20-story building.
Since his products protect against the elements, Rayner wanted to come to Outdoor Retailer to gain exposure to retailers who serve customers that play in the outdoors.
“Definitely we want to connect with our key user base because they’re really going to be appreciate using the product,” Rayner said. “Naturally want to get the feedback for further developments they would like to see and determine what the market wants.”