Sexy iPhone cases said to protect your brain from radiation

Even though Wired seems to endorse this product, I am skeptical.

A Sexy iPhone Case That Shields Your Brain From Radiation.

A new collaboration between protective case maker Pong and the design firm IDEO attempts to do just that. Gold Reveal is the newest offering in Pong’s lineup of radiation-deflecting phone and tablet cases. With a sleek frame in rich colors and a latticed back that reveals a hint of gold metal, the case is an upgrade from the other clunky plastic options on the market. But more importantly, Gold Reveal is as effective as Pong’s original designs in protecting users from the electromagnetic radiation our cellular and wireless devices emit.

Every Pong case comes with a built-in, golden-hued antenna. This antenna pairs with the cell phone’s antenna to form a small magnetic field, which draws the cell phone’s power away from the front of the phone (where your precious brains reside) and redirects it towards the back and sides of the phone. Pong claims, and Wired confirms, that its cases can reduce the amount of radiation that we come into contact with while strengthening our cell signal.

“We needed to have a design that wouldn’t compromise the technology benefits of our product,” DeYoung said. “It’s important because our antenna’s interaction with the case materials and design can have a big impact on how the product works.”

Will this design and technology really protect your brain from radiation or is just a sales gimmick? Is there really anything to fear from cell phone radiation? That’s not been shown to be true – to date, no study has shown that there is a correlation and there is no plausible explanation for how it could harm tissue.

There are certainly lots of dubious, ridiculous products that say they protect you from radiation but do not. This seems a bit different. Has it been tested?

Would I pay for this? No. It’s a bit of an overreaction and fear-mongering.


  12 comments for “Sexy iPhone cases said to protect your brain from radiation

  1. Peebs
    June 7, 2013 at 5:07 PM

    At least we now know where our ‘precious brains reside’!

  2. June 7, 2013 at 5:09 PM

    Seems dubious to me. For the sake of open-ness, I work in the mobile-phone testing industry. A few points here:

    Mobile phone manufacturers spend a LOT of time getting the balance between good performance and an acceptable SAR value. If the cover really has any effect in reducing the SAR for the phone, it likely gives a corresponding reduction in performance (of course, I have not actually tested this item, so this is just speculation)

    The test that wired describes (linked in the article) does not show what they seem to think it does. SAR testing involves testing the phone in many different configurations (physical positions, operating modes, channel frequencies etc), then finding the worst case(s). From the description of the testing they saw, only one configuration was tested (they talk about 20-30 minutes whereas full testing would take several days or even weeks for a smartphone). It is quite possible that the cover reduces the SAR in one configuration, but makes it worse in others, for example.

    If the cover is made in such a way that it moves the phone further away from the head (i.e. if there is a lip on the front side), this additional distance could also give a reduced SAR reading, but this would be true of any case that gives this ‘stand-off’, and would not depend on any clever wizardry.

    Note also that some manufacturers may make statements in their Health and Safety information that they can only ensure the published SAR values in specific situations that may preclude the use of these kind of covers (e.g. if the cover contains metal parts)

    The FCC and other bodies look to be moving toward more testing for phone accessories, so it will be interesting to see what happens with these claims then

  3. Pete Attkins
    June 7, 2013 at 5:53 PM

    It seems to me that this product has been designed to maximally irradiate would-be purchasers’ brains with woo. The only thing that would surprise me about it is to discover that all of its materials have zero risk of being carcinogenic — I shan’t hold my breath while I’m waiting for confirmation.

  4. spookyparadigm
    June 7, 2013 at 6:24 PM

    Will this decrease rates of narcissism? That seems to be the primary correlation with use of iPhones.

  5. June 7, 2013 at 8:53 PM

    I like the statement that these sexy new cases are “as effective as Pong’s original designs in protecting users from the electromagnetic radiation our cellular and wireless devices emit.” Create a product that solves an apparently non-existent problem, then promote a new and improved version just as effective as the original. Brilliant.

  6. RDW
    June 7, 2013 at 8:56 PM

    It doesn’t look all that sexy to me.

  7. June 7, 2013 at 9:54 PM

    RDW, you’re right about that. They look downright ugly, if you ask me…

  8. One Eyed Jack
    June 7, 2013 at 10:10 PM

    I like items like this. It’s similar to the “balance” bracelets. They quickly mark out gullible people that I would prefer to avoid conversing with.

  9. June 7, 2013 at 10:12 PM

    I wonder how effective they actually have to be to protect “…users from the electromagnetic radiation our cellular and wireless devices emit.” The phrase “our cellular and wireless devices” in this case could be interpreted as those devices that Pong makes. Do they make any?

  10. Paul
    June 7, 2013 at 11:05 PM

    I have been in the cellular industry since 1987. I usually spend hours a day on the phone and am quite often standing in front of a cell site antenna on some roof top. My experience is that there is little to no risk from the low level of RF given off by a phone. Now I may grow an extra head some day from standing in front of cell site antennas, about 100 watts, but a phone user will be fine.

  11. J
    June 7, 2013 at 11:48 PM

    Protects you from radiation and still lets the phone connect calls? Interesting.
    Also, the Wired commenters seem to be as doubtful as the commenters here, so that’s a satisficing irony.

  12. bradleyben
    June 8, 2013 at 10:42 PM

    Has there been a double-blind test published in a peer-reviewed journal concluding this thing is sexy? Which part is Wired endorsing, that it reduces brain radiation, or that it’s sexy?

    It must have been a quarter century ago I first heard about some company CEO dying of a brain tumor after years of using a cell phone “for hours every day,” It seems that, if there were causation, since then we should have thousands, nee, MILLIONS of teens and twenty-somethings dying from brain tumors. I’m more incredulous than ever that cell phones (and WiFi, the dangers of which I just overheard people in a supermarket discussing!) cause any health problem.

    Okay, just one more paragraph. There’s a lesson in perceived risk here. Suppose there IS some risk. How much is it? With as long as we’ve had these things, there’s a worst-case amount it could be, and we know it’s a lot safer than (say) driving a car. Want to reduce your risk of health problems? What do you do, reduce cell phone radiation exposure? You’re better off if you wear your seat belt EVERY TIME you drive or ride in a car, OR at less junk food and more veggies, OR exercise more than you do.

    (Absolutely the Last One, I promise) If you really want some true technological threats to keep you worried and awake at night, check out Risks Digest.

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