Cellphones and smartphones use RF/microwave frequencies to transmit and receive information, whether it is voice, data or video. And lately, these gadgets have become a primary mode of communication to keep you in touch with friends, business associates or relatives. Because they are so convenient to carry and use, many users have been glued to them. But, prolonged usage could bring its own set of health concerns. Yes, the more you use, the more you are exposed to radiation. And that could contribute to health problems in the long run. Although, radiation risks of cellphone usage are still being investigated, several cases have been reported in the past, wherein cumulative effect of radiation on an individual has shown to be harmful.
While FCC requires that every cellphone sold in the U.S. must be tested for specific absorption rate (SAR), which is an universal measurement for the amount of radiation being absorbed by the user, there is no tool or app that alerts you when the microwave radiation from your cellphone is high. By the way, FCC regulation requires that SAR value for cellphones must be 1.6 Watts per kilogram (W/kg). Canada’s regulation is similar to the U.S, and in Europe it is 2.0 W/kg.
Reports indicate that FCC’s SAR limit is not enough and may be outdated. Well, this number has not been updated for more than 15 years. Also, the user’s exposure to radiation depends on many parameters, such as signal strength, cell phone’s proximity to the body, frequency band, model and so on. And there is no way to know when that exposure to radiation is high.
So Israeli startup Tawkon developed a radiation detection app for your cellphone/smartphone. Initially, Tawkon’s target was Apple’s iOS based iPhones. But, Apple was not interested, so the developers tweaked it for Android based smartphones and RIM’s BlackBerrys. It warns smartphone users when the radiation levels are at a peak so that they can switch to a Bluetooth, speakerphone, or headset or take some other safety measures.
Tawkon’s radiation detection app works by collecting and extracting the internal measurements of the user’s cellphone that offers insight into radiation output. Utilizing patent pending technology, Tawkon calculates the cellphone’s radiation level and hence the user’s exposure, the SAR. According to Tawkon’s co-founder Amit Lubovsky, the radiation measuring technology has been tested by Satimo USA, an FCC certified RF lab that tracks radiation level for various types of devices with state-of-the-art equipment.
According to Satimo’s report, the average deviation between measurements made by Satimo and Tawkon was only 4.13% for the 850 MHz GSM band, 4.85% for the 900 MHz GSM band and 16% for the 900 MHz WCDMA band. This average deviation is well within the accepted standard deviation of ±30% (IEC62209, IEEE1528), asserted Lubovsky. The co-founder thinks that these results clearly confirm the effectiveness of Tawkon’s radiation detection and measurement.
Going forward, Tawkon is working on adding functionality to the Android app so that it can measure radiation levels when users are doing things other than just making a call, stated Lubovsky. And, eventually, the company may expand to other operating systems as well, including Windows Phone, he added.
Meanwhile, as new features are added on a regular basis, Tawkon is also extending the app to CDMA phones for the US market. Beta tests have been running for the last couple of months with plans to introduce the product soon.