"Tawkon" a new, free, Android app tells mobile users how much RF radiation is being produced by their handsets but it's not available on iPhones. Apple won't allow it - on the direct instruction of Steve Jobs, who you will remember, died of cancer. Martyn Warwick reports.
The app works while a handset is in use or merely in standby mode and calculates a user's distance from the antennas of a mobile base station and factors-in fluctuations and spikes in signal strength as well as how the handset is being held and then indicates (or "predicts", as Tawkon has it) whether the cellular radiation being experienced is "low" (green screen light), "medium (orange light) or "high" (red light).
It also provides information about how to minimise or obviate the effects of electro-magnetic radiation levels. When radiation is high, the app advises users to move the device away from their ear, switching to a headset or even to hang up on a call altogether.
Tawkon is a new-ish Israeli company that secured initial start-up funding of US$1.5 million from various sources a couple of years ago. It's cellular radiation app has been downloaded more than 150,000 times in the past weeks and is available on handsets and devices running the Android OS, on BlackBerry handsets and the iOS platform, although the app will only work on unlocked, "jailbroken" iPhones.
Tawkon did approach the late Steve Jobs about allowing its app on the iPhone but got short-shrift from him. He sent Tawkon the following message, "No interest, Steve Jobs.
Sent from my iPhone." Now, I wonder why he would be so arrogantly and rudely dismissive? A Tawkon spokesperson commented, "we assumed he wasn’t keen on discussing radiation in relation to the iPhone."
The Tawkon app works, in real time, by monitoring a mobile handset's location, its Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) levels, the device's distance from phone masts, network conditions, weather, geographical location (in-building and outside) the handset antenna's proximity to the human body, the orientation of the antenna on the device and the rate at which the handset is traveling. When radiation is high the app also warns users via a vibration and/or an audible tone.
Despite the personal knock-back from Steve Jobs himself, the Tawkon boys applied to the App Store for permission to submit the application for consideration for approval but it was denied on the grounds it would create "confusion" with iPhone users.
There is still no conclusive evidence that the use of mobiles can cause cancer but the independent advisory panel on non-ionising radiation that reports to the UK's Health Protection Agency says mobile comms devices haven't been in use for long enough yet to be able to declare that all handsets are safe and that there is no causal link between them and the 50 per cent increase in the incidence of frontal and temporal lobe tumours that was recorded between 1999 and 2009.
In the meantime, it's up to individual users to decide whether or not to take s precautions against expose to spikes in handset radiation. That's must be why the Tawkon app is proving so popular.
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