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Pong releases 'anti radiation' BlackBerry case

As legislators debate whether to require radiation level labels on cell phones, Pong unveils a BlackBerry Curve case that blocks more than 60 percent of the phone's radiation.

Pong unveils a BlackBerry Curve case that blocks more than 60 percent of the phone's radiation. Pong Research

As the debate rages over precisely how cell phone radiation emission affects the human body, BlackBerry Curve owners who prefer to play it safe may want to look into the BlackBerry Curve Case by Pong Research.

Unveiled at CES in Las Vegas on Wednesday, the protective cell phone case--which looks much like any other cell phone or MP3 player case but at $49.95 costs considerably more--has been verified by FCC-certified labs to reduce users' exposure to radiation by more than 60 percent. It fits models 8300, 8310, 8320, and 8330.

Back in September, Wired covered the development of the case with phrases such as "paranoia placebo" and "tin foil hat," what with radiation being the very thing that makes your phone, well, work.

However, after taking the case to a radiation-testing lab, the editors announced in late October that it does, in fact, seem to work. Note to logophiles: scientists who have trouble explaining the technology aren't necessarily wrong.

It came as no surprise, then, that Pong's Wednesday press release includes an unsuccessful attempt to explain the technology, with word groupings such as, "These cell phone cases exemplify many years of research into precise antenna structure in order to couple with the energy from the phone's antenna." Fortunately I was able to get a hold of the well-spoken Albert Liu, vice president of business development at Pong and a former English major, for assistance.

The case uses the well-known phenomenon "passive antennae coupling." Pong Research

Here are the basics. By emitting radiation, cell phones send signals to and receive signals from wireless networks. Since radiation does not auto-direct to one place, but rather scatters indiscriminately in every direction, some of it also reaches our heads.

Using "passive antennae coupling," which Liu describes as a well-known phenomenon, a second antenna is placed inside the case a short, specific distance from the first, and pulls that energy toward it passively, without having to communicate back to the cell tower. This redirecting of radiation essentially funnels it up and away from one's brain.

The case does not actually reduce radiation levels, which means one's cell phone signal should not be compromised. In fact, says Liu, "What we found is the signal strength actually improves, as it is now being directed toward the cell tower instead of your head, where it is not improving communication."

Pong has already released a case for the iPhone (retail: $59.95), and Liu says that Verizon's Droid and Google's Nexus One are most likely next up. He adds that smart phones are top priorities not only because they are in ever-growing use, but also because radiation levels are higher to accommodate all the data that is communicated.

An estimated 4 billion people worldwide use cell phones, according to the International Telecommunications Union, up from 1 billion in 2002. If the Pong cases prove both successful and popular, I won't be surprised if cell phones themselves are built using this antennae coupling technology in the near future.

Pong Research is privately funded through Bridgewater Capital Partners in Virginia.