Sunday, March 6, 2011

Don't put your iphone next to your head

When I say don't put your iphone next to your head it's not my opinion. It's actually stated in the iphone manual.

My partner Rob Schuham recently sent me a blog post about the RF radiation and it mentioned that Apple, in the iphone manual, suggests that you keep the phone 5/8" away from your body. I wasn't sure I believed it, this being the web and all. So we pulled out our iphone manual here at the Cottage, and sure enough there it was.

Now we have all heard about the potential harmful effects of the radiation coming off our cell phone antennae, but most of us have probably ignored it or just figured it was some sort of technological paranoia. One way or another, I've always laughed it off.

But someting about this warning in their manual reminded me of the work I did all of those years on Truth and all of the research into the tobacco companies that came with it.

Interestingly enough, the first to begin to suspect that cigarettes were killing people were the tobacco companies themselves. After all, they are most intimate with their product. And their reaction, to avoid liability, was to deny that there was a problem. When there was no way to deny the problem any longer, they shifted to the stance that, "it is a personal decision." Thus moving liability to the user. Well, those tactics were very successful for a very long time, and in some ways you could say that they are still working.

As I gazed on the warning within the iphone brochure, I couldn't help but imagine the swirling emails and conversations among the legal team as they crafted this language. As any of you who have worked to get a manual out the door in time knows, this language has been considered very carefully and it has gone through many revisions. And the only reason it would make it into the final document is that the legal minds thought there was a liability issue that they were mitigating. Mitigating risk is their job and it is the job of this document. By "mitigating risk," unfortunately, I don't mean the risk to us the users, I mean the risk of financial liability for the company.

This gets my attention. They know something, and it makes me especially concerned for the safety of my children whose brains are said to be more susceptible to environmental assaults.

Now what to do with our iphones? Maybe there is a product opportunity here for a case that prevents you from getting the device too close to your head. There goes the slim look - 5/8" is a lot when you think about it.

You would need to hold your phone about this far away from your head!


Who does that? Has anyone heard that you should do that? It's actually quite weird if you try it.

Obviously, talking on speaker or with an earpiece makes sense as a precaution. But the radiation is not present just when you're on a call. It can be strongest when the phone is in your pocket and you're not on it. My phone just officially moved out of my pocket into my messenger bag.

Something tells me we are at the beginning of this story not the end.

Here is the copy from the Apple iphone manual:

For optimal mobile device performance and to be sure that human
exposure to RF energy does not exceed the FCC, IC, and European Union
guidelines, always follow these instructions and precautions: When on a
call using the built-in audio receiver in iPhone, hold iPhone with the dock
connector pointed down toward your shoulder to increase separation
from the antenna. When using iPhone near your body for voice calls
or for wireless data transmission over a cellular network, keep iPhone
at least 15 mm (5/8 inch) away from the body, and only use carrying cases,
belt clips, or holders that do not have metal parts and that maintain at
least 15 mm (5/8 inch) separation between iPhone and the body.
iPhone is designed and manufactured to comply with the limits for
exposure to RF energy set by the Federal Communications Commission
(FCC) of the United States, Industry Canada (IC) of Canada, and regulating
entities of Japan, the European Union, and other countries. The exposure
standard employs a unit of measurement known as the specific
absorption rate, or SAR. The SAR limit applicable to iPhone set by the
FCC is 1.6 watts per kilogram (W/kg), 1.6 W/kg by Industry Canada,
and 2.0 W/kg by the Council of the European Union. Tests for SAR are
conducted using standard operating positions (i.e., at the ear and worn
on the body) specified by these agencies, with iPhone transmitting
at its highest certified power level in all tested frequency bands.
Although SAR is determined at the highest certified power level in each
frequency band, the actual SAR level of iPhone while in operation can
be well below the maximum value because iPhone adjusts its cellular
transmitting power based in part on proximity to the wireless network.
In general, the closer you are to a cellular base station, the lower the
cellular transmitting power level.

iPhone’s SAR measurement may exceed the FCC exposure guidelines for
body-worn operation if positioned less than 15 mm (5/8 inch) from the
body (e.g., when carrying iPhone in your pocket).



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