Recently I was at a technology press event in San Francisco filled with consumer electronics, speakers, headphones, activity monitors, smart watches and so forth. I was interested in a few products a particular company had displayed and asked the representative if they knew what the IPX rating was on the product. They responded they did not know what IPX rating was. The comment is not an uncommon one. After all the acronym “IP” could stand for Intellectual Property or Internet Protocol. The average consumer probably does not know what IPX is, or what it stands for, but they should. The primary reason you should know what IPX ratings are is because terms like “Water-Resistant” and “Waterproof” are marketing terms that do not have any standards.

IP is an acronym, and depending on whom you ask it can stand for either International Protection Rating, Immersion Protection or Ingress Protection. These standards defined in the international standard IEC 60529 classifies the degree of protection a product has over solids and liquids. For example, a cell phone case could have an IP rating of IP68. The first number 6 refers to the solid protection, in this particular case, level 6 which is dust tight. The second digit is the products protection rating from liquids. In this example, level 8 means it can be the product can be continuously immersed in water beyond one meter.
In some cases, manufacturers will use an X instead of a number such as IPX9. Consumers may assume that the X mean that the product is not protected. In fact that is not the case, it simply means the product tested for liquids and not solids because the liquid test offers a higher level of protection.

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