In the hot zone

Two new Israeli products are aimed at protecting the chatting classes from electromagnetic radiation, the stuff that gives you tumors.

tawkon 521 (photo credit: Courtesy)
tawkon 521
(photo credit: Courtesy)
That cell phone that you’re carrying may be hazardous to your health – maybe even more hazardous than cigarettes. Why? Radiation – specifically, the radio waves emitted by cell phones, which use electromagnetic radiation in the microwave range. According to some experts, you subject your brain to a huge overdose of microwaves every time you put your phone to your ear – and that, while it may take time, you are likely to find yourself suffering a brain tumor one day. But at least two Israeli companies have developed products that claim to help you remain safe.
A company called Wise Environment ( produces the Cell La Vie, a phone case for the iPhone that claims to reduce 98 percent of its electromagnetic radiation (while protecting it from scratches). Made of thin transparent film, Cell La Vie, which claims to be the only product of its kind in the world, allows you to use “regular” iPhone cases as well.
According to Ronny Gorlicki of Wise Environment, he became concerned when he examined the case against cell phone radiation, and realized that nobody – governments, scientists and even insurance companies (which don’t insure for electromagnetic radiation damage at all) – could agree on what a “safe” level of exposure was. “We really don’t know how much and how long it would take for someone to reach proportions so high that he or she will get cancer,” he said. So why take a chance? Of course, when you suppress the phone’s ability to emit radio waves to prevent radiation from escaping, you are also limiting its ability to communicate – hence, a warning on the Wise Environment site that while “Cell La Vie is designed to reduce exposure by 98%, this extreme constraint also has some influence on the communication between the device and the base-station, although in most cases it is negligible.
Therefore in weak signals areas, communication may be interrupted.”
You’ll do better in areas where there is a strong signal from the cell tower; instead of being aimed directly at your head, the radiation in the area will target your entire body. That, actually, is what the makers of another Israeli-made product, called Tawkon (, are concerned with. Tawkon’s application (available now for BlackBerrys and Android phones; you can join its lobby effort to get it into the App Store at its site) contains a meter that reads the ambient radiation emanated by the phone, which increases or decreases depending on how strong the signal from the tower is. When the combination of the phone’s communication efforts and the cell tower strength goes over a safe level defined by the application, Tawkon alerts you, so you can take steps to alleviate the damage.
You don’t even have to be in a radiation “hot zone” to be exposed; one of the biggest dangers, says the company (whose CEO is Gil Friedlander, an immigrant from Canada), is the cell phone “Death Grip, a well known phenomenon which happens when you wrap the phone with your hand thereby shielding the antenna. This leads to a decrease in the signal being received by the phone, causing the phone to transmit more power in order to reach the cellular tower while maintaining connection quality.
The way you hold the phone – and specifically blocking the receiver – increases the transmission power of the phone to maintain good cellular connectivity, and thereby increases radiation levels you’re exposed to.” It’s hard to retrain yourself to hold your phone “safely,” and thus Tawkon’s alarm can help you avoid excessive exposure.
You can keep historic records of radiation exposure, and even map “danger zones” in your home or office, so you know what areas to avoid when talking. A future version, together with Israeli company We-Fi, even promises to switch your call from your cell network to wi-fi (much less radiation) when available. Tawkon acknowledges that there is controversy on the radiation issue – you can see a nice list of pro- and anti-radiation stories at its “debate page” ( But with Tawkon’s ad supported version available for free, I’d download it – just in case.