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Cellphones Handhelds Wireless Networking Science

Startup Uses Radiation Fear To Map Cellphone Coverage 81

Posted by Soulskill
from the might-as-well-put-it-to-good-use dept.
judgecorp writes "Fears that mobile phones cause cancer have never had strong backing from scientific research, but Israeli startup Tawkon is using those fears for an interesting business model. Its free app (banned from Apple's App Store, but on Android, BlackBerry and unlocked iPhones) tracks how much radiation your phone is emitting. This lets concerned users hold their phones away from their heads or whatever — but it also gives Tawkon a useful map of cellphone coverage around the world, which is the real asset it is monetizing — for the benefit of everyone, it says."
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Startup Uses Radiation Fear To Map Cellphone Coverage

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  • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @05:11PM (#42814225)

    ...is using those fears for an interesting business model

    So, it's the newest high-tech version of selling magic crystals, horoscopes, and wall plug nuclear electricity filters? Wow. That's classy.

    • What's that old saying?

      "No one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people."

      • I think that old saying might also be "non-ionizing radiation doesn't cause cancer".
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward
          I work in neurology research at a university- so far, the jury (data) hasn't decided yet. Increases in cellular calcium ion channel activity result from exposure to EMF. This includes L-type calcium channels in neurons. The L-type channel is involved in a lot of functions- this includes gene expression, neuronal survival and death. I'm not saying "it causes cancer". Just saying there are still some very compelling grants out there about to be funded that are looking into this- The jury is still out.
          • The jury might want to study the effects of solar radiation and flashlights on people.

            Interesting questions are: What percentage of 1GHz penetrates more than 0.5 mm into the skin? how is it going to affect you if you don't feel any heat? If it doesn't make your eyeballs frost over, just how strong is the evil effect ?

            • by tehcyder (746570)

              how is it going to affect you if you don't feel any heat?

              Gravity waves, obviously. You people with your electromagnetism-centric attitude.

            • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)

              The jury might want to study the effects of solar radiation and flashlights on people.

              Do you think that "the jury" hasn't done a lot of study on solar radiation?

              Some of the interesting things they have found is that the Electromagnetic radiation from the Sun has a big heating effect.

              The UV output of the sun can damage the skin over long periods of time, leading to cancer in some cases.

              The solar radiation also produces Vitamin D. There are interesting medical aspects of that, as highly pigmented humans, such as peopl eof African (and probably Indian) descent are in need of Vitamin D supp

          • by Joce640k (829181)

            I work in neurology research at a university- so far, the jury (data) hasn't decided yet. Increases in cellular calcium ion channel activity result from exposure to EMF. This includes L-type calcium channels in neurons.

            Does that also happen if you go outside in daylight? How much activity do you see in daylight relative to a cellphone?

      • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)

        "No one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people."

        So what you are trying ot say is that most people are stupid, so cellphone radiation is harmless

        This is why it becomes difficult to discuss the subject. It's almost like trying to argue with creationists.

        But I get this all the time when trying to discuss the subject. I don't know what the effects are, but when you try to discuss it rationally, you are accused of either being stupid, a liberal, or that I'm wrong because I'm just wrong.

        This is a valid argument? I always like to reduce things to a fundam

        • "No one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people."

          So what you are trying ot say is that most people are stupid, so cellphone radiation is harmless

          Uh, no, you inferred that all on your own, presumably because you take an unpopular position in this debate, and therefore every mention is seen as either support or an attack.

          What I'm trying to say is that nobody ever lost money betting on the fact that most people are stupid, and I stand by it.

    • Re:Snake oil again? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by DigiShaman (671371) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @05:53PM (#42814691) Homepage

      The asians have been selling anti-radiation maternity cloths for years now. My wife purchased one herself. Surprisingly, they work...at blocking cell reception at least. I tested it out with two cell phones. Both had full bars. As soon as I covered one of the phones all the way around, the signal dropped. It was instant and the test could be repeated over and over again. So the clothes do was they're advertised to do. The question is, does it really impact the safety of fetal development? Doubt it. But there you go.

      http://www.amazon.com/Radiation-Maternity-Preganat-Protection-Shielding/dp/B0053ZPB6U [amazon.com]

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      It's not snake oil ... they're leveraging the existing fear of emissions from cell phones to get paranoid people to help them map cell phone coverage.

      If you're interested in this app, you already believe it's harmful -- it's just that the end goal is to use the crazies to map out the cell phone coverage, and that's where the money is.

      Its crowd-sourcing by using people's own fears -- and they'll be happy to know how to minimize their exposure.

      I'ts actually kind of funny, and it's like saying "well, if the he

  • Jailbreak vs Unlock (Score:4, Informative)

    by retaj (1020999) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @05:30PM (#42814455)
    The summary should say "jailbroken iPhones" instead of "unlocked iPhones". Jailbreaking allows unauthorized apps, unlocking allows SIM freedom.
    • by gnasher719 (869701) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @05:34PM (#42814489)

      The summary should say "jailbroken iPhones" instead of "unlocked iPhones". Jailbreaking allows unauthorized apps, unlocking allows SIM freedom.

      If you want to be guaranteed radiation free, you could by a broken iPhone instead of a jailbroken one. Just remove the battery, and you can hold it to year head and talk into it as much as you like.

      You'll have to talk a bit louder so that the person you are calling hears you.

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        You'll have to talk a bit louder so that the person you are calling hears you.

        Just tie a piece of string between the two phones. I'm sure there's an app for that.

    • Jailbreaking allows app freedom, unlocking allows SIM freedom.

      FTFY

    • But this "jailbreaking" term is tiring, it's in effect a pedantic and not so subtle way of boasting about owning an iphone.

  • "Apple, which refused to hose the software, "
  • This site notes that there is no link, but points out the WHO lists it as a "Possible carcinogen". Lets take a look at what else the WHO lists as "Possible carcinogens":

    Coffee, dry cleaning, exhaust/gas, pickled vegatables, nickle... to name a few
    [source: http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Classification/ClassificationsGroupOrder.pdf%5D [monographs.iarc.fr] 2B is prossible, 2A is probable

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Cancer isn't particularly well-understood, and its causes are notoriously difficult to track. There are so many different causes and mechanistic pathways that even gigantic and expensive prospective longitudinal studies have difficulty detecting the effects of individual weak carcinogens.

  • Using stupid people as robots...very smart indeed. The same thing could be done for wifi, or tracking the appearance of contrails. I'm sure there are plenty of possibilities previously unimagined due to insufficient cynicism.

  • I can certainly see the monetary value in producing cell-phone coverage reports. And I have a hard time arguing with this method of collecting it. The user gets information that they find valuable (phone radiation emitted) in return for that information (with PII stripped, one would hope) being used for what the business would like to make money off of.

    As long as they aren't actually asserting any conclusions as to the user's health, it's not even particularly misleading.

  • "Three benefits for me, one benefit for you...."

    Never the idealized equal exchange of value that I was taught in Business Law 101. Nope, we get Highlander-style economics instead.

    • by TheP4st (1164315)

      "Three benefits for me, one benefit for you...."

      Are you talking about the app or about iPhone? ;-)

    • by Hentes (2461350)

      As long as they are open about selling data about their users, I don't see an ethical problem. Most businesses do the same behind your back.

  • by blind biker (1066130) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @07:29PM (#42815643) Journal

    Not so much for protecting me from "radiation", but to keep battery consumption low: whenever the signal is weak, the phone compensates by increasing transmitting power, draining the battery in the process. If Tawkon warns me of strong transmitting field, I'll keep the conversation short.

  • by jxander (2605655) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @08:00PM (#42815943)

    While the fear mongering and data collection is a bit worrisome, they might actually be on to something here.

    It would be very useful to have crowd-sourced maps of cell coverage, speeds, dropped calls, etc... Would certainly make the choice of provider a much more informed decision, instead of relying on their own coverage maps.

    • We think so! Check out opensignal.com - we already provide crowd-sourced maps of cell coverage and data speeds. Also our app also has nothing to do with radiation, it helps you find local wifi networks and get better phone signal (among other things).
    • by Argilo (602972)
      Coverage Mapper [coveragemapper.com] is doing some of what you describe.
  • Quote: Not allowed on iPhone after personal rejection by Steve Jobs

    Yeah, this app is that old.

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