March 24, 2011 at 2:10 PM ET
Tawkon thought it was doing a public service by developing a mobile app that allows users to see the level of radiation being emitted from their cellphones and petitioned for it to be included in Apple's App Store. When the start-up hit a roadblock with the store, the company's CEO tried to go through Steve Jobs, whose response from his iPhone left no room for further discussion: "No interest."
On its blog, the company posted its email to Jobs from Tawkon founder Gil Friedlander and Jobs' terse reply. The emails were written in August, so it's unclear why it's taken this long to post it, although that may have to do with being "left with no alternative but to climb through the Cydia window to let iPhone users see and lower their exposure to cellphone radiation."
Cydia allows jailbroken iPhones to install apps not approved by the official Apple App Store. Tawkon even links to CNET's handy guide to how to jailbreak your iPhone 4.
Tawkon seems to capitalize on the endless concern and debate over radiation exposure from cellphones, a worry that has turned people onto wireless and wired headsets, voice-command apps and Bluetooth pairing within their cars. A study released earlier this year shows the human brain is sensitive to electromagnetic radiation from cell phone exposure.
The blog gives Tawkon's rationale for the app, comparing "giving people the choice to see and take precautionary measures" to "letting people see the speedometer in their car so they can use informed judgment to drive better."
The app has several modes that allow users to map low-high radiation zones; get instant real-time alerts with suggestions and feedback to avoid radiation at the onset of exposure; graphical statistics and post-call stats to see cumulative radiation exposure and being able to contribute to the user-generated "Radiation Map."
Friedlander, who wrote that Tawkon has "avid iPhone users," tried to appeal to Jobs by volunteering to compromise with the App Store team, and reiterating a message of continued use of cellphones, albeit with minimal exposure to radiation at the same time.
In the blog, Tawkon takes Apple to task:
We also find it strange that the Apple user manual instructs users to not hold the iPhone close to your head, but Steve Jobs is "not interested" in an app that shows real-time exposure. If he used tawkon he’d know that most of the time the iPhone doesn’t reach it’s maximum labeled SAR levels. However when it does, it’s very easy to lower exposure by heeding tawkon instructions – like "go back" to previous location, "activate speakerphone", "hold your phone vertically" or activate headset while traveling fast, among other actions.
Tawkon is available for free on BlackBerry and Android phones.
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