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Cellphones Handhelds Wireless Networking Science

Startup Uses Radiation Fear To Map Cellphone Coverage 81

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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  • Jailbreak vs Unlock (Score:4, Informative)

    by retaj ( 1020999 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @06:30PM (#42814455)
    The summary should say "jailbroken iPhones" instead of "unlocked iPhones". Jailbreaking allows unauthorized apps, unlocking allows SIM freedom.
  • by pushing-robot ( 1037830 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @06:38PM (#42814559)

    I'd imagine it's "banned" for the same reason as wardriving apps: because they use undocumented calls to get low level info from the radios. It sounds like they appealed to Jobs himself, but he turned them down. I can't really blame him, as the app's two functions seem to be (a) scare you with BS and (b) spy on you.

    App Store restrictions are a bit annoying, but less annoying than having to run an antivirus program on your phone. Power users can, at least, jailbreak.

  • Re:Snake oil again? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Wednesday February 06, 2013 @09:22PM (#42816137)

    I'd be interested to see if there were any non-industry funded long term studies done with cell phone use and incidents of cancer. My guess is there probably aren't any because there would be no funding and if you found that it did cause cancer then you'd be ostracized as a quack the rest of your short career..

    All anti-Industry paranoia aside, the re have been studies done on the effects of cell phones. And there have been some effects found.

    The problem is that everyone here in America focuses on Cancer. That is really the single least likely effect of cell phone use. Cell phone electromagnetic radiation is not ionizing radiation, the type of radiation that we know can cause cancer.

    Of more interest is the frequencies in use. especially the higher frequencies. 1.8-1.9 GHz, and 2.1 GHz. This is very near the frequencies used in microwave cooking, typically around 2.45 GHz, or some indusrial applications around 915 MHz. Note that the explanation often given that microwave heating is caused by a frequency in resonanace with water molecules is incorrect. That frequency is actually over 1 THz. This is heating via RF, not any resonance.

    So this is the background. The phones are little microwave producing machines.

    So now we have these little devices putting out around 2 watts maximum. And we are holding them in their near field, which is to say we're getting about their whole output, whatever it is at the time. (note: the strength fall off as the inverse square of the distance from the radiating device).The specific power output is adjusted automatically (ever notice how your battery life is significantly less when you are in a pooer reception area?) So there is possiblility of thermal heating effects. Cataracts are a possibility. I claim no cause/effect, because it is a sample of 1, but my S.O. has a cataract in her eye on the side that she uses her phone. And she spends hours a day on the phone. And she is very young to be having a cataract under any circumstances.

    Thermal effects are indisputable, but do they mean anything?

    There have been other effects measured, such as localized glucose metabolism in the area of the brain adjacent to the cell phone. It is not clear if this is significant or not. And some effects have been reported that have not been reproduced yet.

    Personally, I think that the cataract issue might be a possibility, but am biased on that one. I semi-seriously jest that extended cell phone use makes people temporarily stupid. I also limit my cell phone use, actually a desirable thing in my opinion.

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