Radiation Warning App Banned by Apple

Published: March 29th 2010
in Economics » Israel

Pic: None
Chart Showing Top 10 Lowest/Highest Radiation Phones
Pic: CNet

It’s common knowledge, or at least common suspicion, that cell phone radiation is unhealthy. How unhealthy is still left unanswered. With our ever-increasing dependence on mobile phones, the answer might be moot as we are unlikely to stop using them any time soon. However, one Israeli high-tech startup thinks they might have a solution.


Tawkon, founded by Canadian born Gil Friedlander, is a six person organization which has developed an application that suggests to users when it’s safe to use their phones and when it’s unsafe due to radiation levels being too high.


In order to provide this information, Tawkon “maps” users’ location and alerts them when they are exposed to significant levels of radiation from their mobile phones. While the application can’t actually measure the phone’s radiation, it’s able to provide an accurate assessment based on various other factors such as location, weather, placement of phone, GPS, Bluetooth or speakerphone functionality, the phone’s orientation and built-in compass.


Location is the one factor which is usually the easiest to avoid. Radiation levels are usually worst in rooms with thick concrete walls such as a basement or an elevator, and vehicles such as trains, cars, and buses. As well, any location that requires the phone to switch off between cellular broadcast towers in order to connect to a signal is linked to high radiation levels.


Cell phone radiation is measured by the FCC using a term called SAR (Specific Absorption Rate) levels. For a phone to be sold in Canada, the maximum SAR level must be less than 1.6 watts per kilogram, the same as in the United States. In Europe, the maximum SAR level is 2 watts per kilogram. However, a phone’s rating is not definite as the SAR level can vary between different transmission bands.


As reported on the TechCrunch blog, as of today Apple has still banned the release of this application on their app store. Apple’s argument is that Tawkon would create confusion for its users from a usability perspective due to it being a diagnostic tool. Friedlander is still in discussions with Apple and he is optimistic that they will resolve this issue shortly, and that the ban will be lifted. Regardless, Tawkon is still moving forward with the release of the application on other devices such RIM’s Blackberry, Google’s Android, and Nokia’s Symbian OS phones for an estimated price of under $10.


While the application will mostly be the same on all platforms, some of the tools used to measure the radiation levels, such as the compass, might not be available on all phones.


And, while an application such as Tawkon might be an interestingly cautionary idea, it in no way implies that cell phone use is harmful and can be linked to cancer. Research has been conducted, and will continue to be done for years to come, but the results have been contradictory. Regardless, some governments, such as Israel’s, have already recommended that children under 18 should not use mobile phones as their brain tissue is still developing and might be more susceptible. In short, quoting an iPhone commercial which will never be made “Want to know if you’re dying a slow death? There’s an app for that”.


We’ve attached a chart showing the top 10 phones for lowest radiation and for highest radiation.

Related articles: (iphone, apple, app, tawkon, radiation)

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