Gorilla Glass 3, Tech 21 cases stand up to abuse at CES

Companies demo durability of new device glass, cases

LAS VEGAS - If you are accustomed to cramming your expensive smartphone into your jeans pocket or alongside of sharp keys inside a purse, you should be glad to hear that Corning recently announced Gorilla Glass 3.

The company demonstrated at International CES how the new material is tougher than glass offered by competitors, and its own previous generation glass, by rolling steel balls down a small incline to bash the Gorilla Glass 3 displays from various angles.

All of the glass samples, similar to what will be used in smartphone displays, were scratched slightly, then subjected to the steel ball treatment. A small scratch can make it easier for a display to splinter or completely fall apart if dropped or hit.

In several demonstrations, each of the new displays held up well, while competitors' displays splintered.

David Valasquez, director of marketing at Corning Gorilla Glass, said that the latest version has a completely new glass composition, dubbed Native Damage Resistance.

Gorilla Glass 3 will be unveiled in new devices in the middle of the year. Previous generations have shipped in 975 product models and 1 billion devices globally over the past six years.

In a separate demonstration at CES, Tech21 showed how its Impactology technology is used in smartphone and tablet cases to make them more resistant to knocks, bumps, drops and other damage.

A Tech21 booth rep bashed his smartphone inside a Tech 21 case on the edge of a table repeatedly to show how the case absorbs an impact.

Tech21 cases are made up of an orange polymer called D30, which is also used in military applications for absorbing impacts. It is a non-Newtonian polymer with "intelligent structure," which means the molecules flow freely but upon shock or impact, they lock together and absorb the impact force and spread the shock event across the surface of a material.

At the Tech21 booth, the sticky orange polymer in its liquid state was displayed in a large vat. Tech21 officials would pull out a piece of the polymer and then wrap it around the finger of willing victim and bash the victim's finger with polymer surrounding it with a rubber hammer to show how the polymer absorbed an impact.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at  @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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