San Diego company's mobile device cases credited with saving lives

Lifeproof makes cases for iPads, iPhones, iPods

SAN DIEGO - A case for mobile devices invented by a San Diego company is grabbing headlines for offering so much protection it's saving lives.

Last October, video captured on an iPad showed a remarkably calm Ted Wright following a plane crash in the Gulf of Mexico. He was able to use the iPad because it was encased in a case made by local company Lifeproof.

The Lifeproof cases -- made for iPads, iPhones, iPods -- are the brainchild of company founder Gary Rayner. Lifeproof cases, which debuted in mid-2011, boast a patented seal and locking mechanism.       

The Lifeproof case is billed as drop-proof and waterproof. If a user's case gets wet, the device inside still works. It's also been deemed dirt-proof and snow-proof.

"The really exciting thing for me is that it's actually saving lives. We know of over a dozen stories of people lives being saved," said Rayner.

During Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast, fire crews in one New Jersey town leaned on iPhones in Lifeproof cases to find out where they had to go because two-way radios and pagers were damaged by water.

"Our rescue crews were out and saved 40 people who couldn't get out of their houses," said Lou Nardone, battalion chief with Seaside Heights Fire Department.

Another example involves two fishermen with few options after their boat sank off the California coast.

"One of them had a Lifeproof case and called 911, and they were rescued within an hour or so," said Rayner.

In the case of Wright's plane crash, Wright also had an iPhone with a Lifeproof case, but no phone signal. After he was rescued, he used the phone -- which was submerged for four hours -- to call loved ones.

Lifeproof employs more than 200 people locally and plans to triple its workforce in the next two years thanks to high demand.

A Lifeproof case for an iPhone costs about $70, and cases will be available for Android phones in the next few months.

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