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article imageOp-Ed: BYU grad makes waves with waterproof electronics

By Marvin Dumon     Jul 16, 2013 in Technology
Most college grads are polishing their resumes and applying for jobs in a weak economy. However, one recent graduate of Brigham Young University is busy growing his underwater electronics business.
Consumer electronics and water areas, such as the beach, typically do not mix well. As a swimming enthusiast, Scott Walker thought he could create an entirely new niche by making waterproof gadgets.
As a junior marketing student in 2011, Walker created waterproof electronics such as headphones, earphones, and iPod Shuffles. His start-up, Underwater Audio, was born. Walker's experimental application of sealants and plastics recently earned him recognition as a promising entrepreneur in the state of Utah.
Walker's waterproof devices enable users to bring their music or favorite audio book to swimming pools or the beach. Using proprietary technology, Underwater Audio (the name of Walker's business) seals fourth- and fifth-generation Apple devices from the inside out. The liquid-proof iPod Shuffles are routinely tested beyond 200 feet in salt, fresh, and chlorinated water. “With our method, we don’t crack open the iPod Shuffle and take it apart,” says Walker.
Underwater Audio is growing rapidly and is already seeking distribution partnerships outside of the United States. However, there could be a larger market beyond recreational swimming applications.
Walker’s water-defying application has utility in other sectors. For instance, the defense industry may have a need for communication devices that work underwater for U.S. special forces, Navy Seals and Marines conducting dangerous missions in coastal areas. The energy industry may also have similar needs for workers in oil rig platforms.
Athletes who are rehabilitating injuries through water therapy could also find use in waterproof iPods.
Walker told the Daily Barometer, “The success has been phenomenal.” Walker says that his largest group of customers are swimmers. He also plans to waterproof other types of Apple products.
In business, it’s extremely hard to create a new niche – and possibly, a new industry – because so many innovations are rejected by the marketplace. Without spending much thought about their value proposition, many entrepreneurs resort to trying to make a quick buck by selling variants of the Pet Rock.
In April, Underwater Audio was recently named as the No. 1 student-run business by Utah Student 25, an organization that recognizes student entrepreneurs across the state of Utah. “It was nice to receive recognition for all the hard work,” Walker told the Marriott School of Business. “Winning this competition has opened all kinds of doors for me,” said the Oregon native.
Walker is pioneering a breakthrough technology in an emerging market. He says Underwater Audio has the No. 2 market share in the industry. “I spend every spare moment working on Underwater Audio,” Walker says. “But I feel like I have a balanced life. It’s busy, but I enjoy it.”
Aside from the United States, Underwater Audio sells its products in some parts of Canada and Australia. Walker also plans to set up locations in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. He hopes he can save his customers money from having to replace expensive electronics damaged by water intrusion into sensitive internal parts. Walker also wants to reach out to more surfers, divers, beachgoers, and others who find activity near the water.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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