Killer iPods ?
andre.kesteloot at verizon.net
Mon May 14 10:04:52 CDT 2007
*Attack of the Killer iPods?*
FRED J. AUN - MacNewsWorld
A study from the Thoracic and Cardiovascular Institute at Michigan State
University has raised concerns about the possibility that iPods could
cause pacemakers to fail. Are iPods, which work in ways that are
essentially very similar to many other MP3 devices, being unfairly
singled out? Are they any more dangerous than cell phones, for instance,
which actively broadcast signals?
The headlines were rather scary.
A study found that Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) Latest News about Apple iPods
can cause pacemakers to malfunction.
The articles reporting this news arose from a presentation made at the
Heart Rhythm Society's annual meeting in Denver this week. Those
attending the meeting heard that electrical interference of pacemakers
was found about 50 percent of the time when an iPod was held within
several inches of a patient's chest for five to ten seconds.
Sometimes, iPods were found to interfere with the implanted devices even
when they were held 18 inches away, said the reports. One time, a
pacemaker completely stopped functioning, reported one article.
Why Just iPod?
Although the study was conducted at the Thoracic and Cardiovascular
Institute at Michigan State University and overseen by Dr. Krit
Jongnarangsin, assistant professor in the department of internal
medicine at the University of Michigan, its author, Jay Thaker, is a
17-year-old high school student.
That alone isn't what's causing a number of gadget lovers to cry "foul."
Although the study did not test other portable music players, its
results could be misconstrued to suggest iPods are more dangerous for
pacemaker wearers than are other electronic gadgets.
Neither Jongnarangsin nor Thaker could be reached for comment or to
clarify whether their research determined which pacemakers were most
Older pacemakers would perhaps be more susceptible to electromagnetic
field disturbances than would newer models. Those fields surround us,
after all, and they are probably getting stronger every time another
person gets a cell phone.
Then there's the whole iPod thing. One wonders if, say, a Microsoft Zune
would also alter the pace of a pacemaker. The people most likely to make
that point would be Apple, but iPod division spokesperson Tom Neumayr
declined to comment for this story.
The Xerox of MP3 Players?
One thing the report might prove is that "iPod" is steadily becoming a
generic word for "portable music player." One might not blame the
journalists for it this time, since the study authors did use Apple's
players only, though stories about portable music players often refer to
all such devices as "iPods."
"As electronic devices permeate our space, we will likely increasingly
focus on how they affect each other," Enderle Group Principal Analyst
Rob Enderle told MacNewsWorld. "We've certainly seen concerns by the FAA
(Federal Aviation Administration), which asks that devices be turned off
during the critical take-off and landing portions of a flight and have
known for some time that hospitals don't want cell phones running near
critical monitoring equipment."
The fact that people tend to lump all MP3 players under the iPod label
could be seen as a good thing for Apple, particularly if one buys into
the "all publicity is good publicity" theory. However, it would be
wrong, said Enderle, to suggest Apple's ubiquitous music players are
more dangerous than other companies' versions and, for that matter,
wireless gadgets by any maker.
"The iPod is most often chosen because it is the most prevalent, but
wireless devices are probably the most dangerous because they actively
broadcast," he said. "In all cases, it would be wise for the industry to
get more aggressive at shielding because we are becoming more dependent
on electronics and thus more at risk if one device creates problems for
any other, particularly if that other device is in charge of keeping us
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