Let's skip the debate about cell phone safety, and agree it's an issue at least some people are concerned about. Given that, I have a suggestion for designers of next-generation and next-next-generation handsets: Enable the camera and camcorder functions to work without the phone being turned on.
As the cell phone increasingly becomes like the modern-era pocket knife, with camera, camcorder, music and media player and GPS built in, the analogy to the old Swiss Army knife becomes even more poignant: If you want to use the screwdriver blade, or the tweezers, you tuck the sharp knife blade away for safety. Only a fool would try to use the screwdriver or corkscrew while one of the sharp knife blades was extended.
Granted, most people don't consider cell phones dangerous, and they keep their cell phones powered up and "talking" to the local cell sites constantly. But not everyone. Some people carry cell phones just for emergencies, or just to make outgoing calls. And as the "secondary" functions of camera and camcorder and media player become qualitatively better and even more popular, who's to say that the cell phone functionality will always, and should always be first and foremost?
So to cell phone designers everywhere, I issue a plea: Allow users to operate the digital still camera and camcorder and media player, while turning off the microwave radio connection to the cell carrier. Not only will you make all the safety nuts happy, there's also a wonderful engineering benefit: Power savings.
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