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Mobile phone scare over, or is it a Wind-Up?

We look into gadget that claims to reduce radiation by 90 per cent

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Updated Despite the constantly conflicting arguments over whether mobile phones are damaging, most people must surely have the opinion that there is a real risk of radiation for users.

With the release of governmental research that says mobiles are safe again have come reports of a mobile gadget that reduces the radiation from the hands-free cable by 90 per cent. The Wind-Up product is not a new thing - we first heard about it in May but only gave it a small mention. Now it seems to be gaining wider awareness, we thought it only right to dig deeper.

The company that manufacturers the Wind-Up, Ismo Ltd, originally produced it to act as a cable tidier - it's a reel that takes up the slack from the cable. This was way back in November last year. Then, when a report from the Consumers Association in April said that the hands-free kit was actually amplifying radiation by 300 per cent, the Wind-Up gadget was repackaged as a radiation reducer.

A press release was sent out claiming the new properties was sent out on 23 May, containing claims of an independent survey by Powerwatch that said the Wind-Up reduces radiation by 90 per cent. Dr Alasdair Philips of Powerwatch was quoted extensively.

Now, we're not suggesting anything untoward here - Dr Philips is clearly an expert in this field and Ismo is very open about its product and the timeframe of its claims. But a few things do make us suspicious. First of all, Ismo suggests to current owners of Wind-Up that they contact the company to learn how to put it in "anti-radiation mode (a simple modification)". This would suggest somewhat of a fudge.

But how do customers contact Ismo? Well, they either email or fax. No phone number is listed and if there is one, it is ex-directory. The fax number is an 0870 number, meaning it is a national number. That means that it can be picked up by any one of a number of offices in the country. But why is the fax number national when there isn't a phone number?

This aside, there is a nagging cynical doubt here at Vulture Central that there may be a commercial relationship between Ismo and Dr Philips. He isn't one of the company's two listed directors, but nevertheless we emailed Ismo to ask for confirmation. We'll keep you informed.

Does it work as a radiation reducer? Who knows? It is obviously expecting a run on the products - it has got the product into Carphone Warehouse and Harrods among others and has reduced the price from £7.99 to £4.99. Our major beef with all things mobile-related at the moment are the dodgy scientific experiments that are carried out to prove the point one way of the other. Shouldn't an official independent scientific body agree on some form of standard testing? Or would that put at risk billions of pounds of investment in these little devices?

Update: One of Ismo's directors Christian Simpson sent us an email this morning refuting our suggestions of foul play. While we disagree with Mr Simpson's assertion that not having a listed telephone number is normal practice, he answered most of our queries regarding the Wind-Up device.

Accepting our scepticism, Christian said the induction effect produced when the coil is wound in a certain way (hence the request to existing owners to contact the company) initially came as a surprise to the company. He also categorically denied any connection between Ismo and Alasdair Philips - the man who tested the device and gave it the 90 per cent reduction claim - saying that he had never even met Mr Philips.

He said he would love to see a standard test for mobile radiation and denied that the price cut had anything to do with the recently discovered radiation-reducing properties. For good measure, we have asked Ismo to provide details of Powerwatch's testing of Wind-Up.

The inductance effect to which Christian refers has been confirmed by several readers. By winding the cable in a tight coil, it will act as an inductor (the concept behind dynamos, electric motors etc). This, combined with the cable's resistance and capacitance will cause a filtering effect. One reader reckoned that Ismo had struck lucky and the filtering effect
acted on just the frequency of radiation that the phone was pumping out.

So there you have it. ®

Click here to find out if your mobile will kill you (a semi-continuation of this story)

Related links

Ismo
Powerwatch
Consumers Association report on hands-free kit

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