I get a lot of questions from customers and concerned citizens about the risks of smart home devices, the negative effects of smart homes and smart home side effects. And I try hard to answer them. But the truth is, many of the companies creating the hottest new smart tech do not release EMF emissions information– or if they do, they try to hide it, or even outright lie about their EMF emissions as we saw in the PhoneGate scandal. So, as I’ve done in the past, this year I went to CES 2020 with my trusty TriField in hand to take some measurements for myself and see what the EMF radiation levels from smart tech actually are. And what I found will shock you.
So here are on this page are videos of the EMF measurements I took of some of the new smart tech devices on display at CES 2020 (yes, I was that guy wandering around CES with a TriField. I got more than a few awkward stares.)
Some Background on CES
First, as a bit of background, CES is a really unique show. This year there were an estimated 175,000 attendees– that’s basically a medium-sized city of tech leaders, companies, enthusiasts and reporters that descend on Las Vegas each year, jacking up hotel rates and clogging the main streets, all looking for what the hot new tech will be for the year.
Which means that this show has approximately 175,000 people who are not the least bit interested interested in EMF radiation emissions of these products, or the potential health risks to consumers of using them.
It’s usually a very optimistic and forward-looking scene. And this year was no different.
So I went around the convention center, checking out all the latest and greatest high tech has to offer. I always love seeing the new TVs, and the prototype concept cars– this year, I even checked out a helicopter from Hyundai & Uber.
As we’ve seen at CES for the past several years, wireless charging and smart homes are a huge part of where tech sees consumer trends heading. And that was the case again this year.
So I took out my TriField and took some readings.
Qi Wireless Charging
My first testing stop was at the booth for Qi, which is an organization that defines a standard for wireless charging that is widely adopted. I was interested in what these guys had to show, since I first measured EMF from Qi chargers at CES 2016 and at the time I was very impressed at how much lower the emissions were than from competing standards.
Well, this year, they continued to impress me– but for the wrong reasons!
They were demonstrating a product from Charter House. It’s basically a surface onto which you can place cookware that’s designed to work from power through the device. So, for instance, just plop the blender on the surface and start it. Take it off, and then put the kettle there, and it’ll work. You get the idea. And of course you can charge your phone on it at the same time.
Sounds nifty. So I took some measurements. First, I measured the ELF readings. I was standing a couple of feet away, and the second I turned on my TriField, I was getting concerning readings.
You can see in this video that, even about a foot away, I was measuring over 5 mG (milligauss)! That’s huge for being so far away. Then, as I got closer, you can see the levels exceed 20 mG!
For a bit of reference, when I use this same meter to measure levels from an electrical outlet when a phone is charging through it, I read about 1 – 2 mG. So this device is generating 10 to 20 times the level of low frequency magnetic power than a standard charger plugged into a wall!
This is way higher than what I measured from Qi chargers in 2016. So then I changed my TriField setting to measure radio frequency (RF). I figured at least the RF levels would be low (since wireless charging, generally, involves higher levels of ELF, and not so much RF). And boy, did I have another surprise in store!
You can see that a foot away, it’s already reading over 4 mW/m2 (milliwatts per square meter). That’s about what you could expect to read directly from a cell phone that’s making a call. But remember: in this video, that’s about a foot away.
As I got closer, the levels exceeded 16 mW/m2! That’s like four cell phones running at high power.
Remember: this is essentially a wireless-charger designed for cooking in the kitchen, so it’s designed for you to spend time immediately around it. And it emits a massive amount of both ELF and RF.
AirCharge Wireless Chargers
I stopped by the booth of another wireless charging company, AirCharge. These guys had a more standard set of offerings – they weren’t demonstrating anything as ‘fancy’ as a high-tech wireless kitchen appliance setup. They just had a bunch of wireless chargers to charge your phones. The kind you can get from any number of different companies these days, though I believe AirCharge is one of the larger ones.
So I took some readings. I started with the ELF.
Right up against the charger, you can see that the TriField measured ELF-magnetic fields between 50 mG all the way up in excess of 100 mG! (That’s what it means when the TriField reads ‘1 —-‘ – it means that the readings exceed 100 mG, which is the max that the TriField can measure.) That’s simply massive.
I switched the TriField over to take some RF readings. And while they weren’t as bad as what I measured at the Qi booth, they were still much higher than I would have expected. Between 1.5 and 2.8 mW/m2.
Ok, so that was the wireless charging. To be honest, I found that whole thing pretty depressing. So I made my way over to check out some TVs.
EMF from Smart Televisions
I love seeing the televisions at CES. Especially from the big firms like LG. LG always has a massively impressive showcase of new televisions, from pure-black OLEDs, to super-thin retracting screens, it’s really impressive to see.
Of course, I’m not the only one who thinks so. The television booths from the big firms are always super crowded. And the screens are protected by ropes. No way to get up to them to test. So I had to settle for testing TVs from other sources.
Konka Smart TV
The TVs from Konka, a firm based in Hong Kong, are nice. Not outstanding, but quite nice.
I took out my meter and tested. Now, for the ELF, they surprisingly barely registered any levels. I say surprising, because TVs can be a significant source of ELF radiation. At least the one I tested, was not.
And I switched my TriField over to RF. I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect. But I held the meter up to one of their smart TVs, and measured a pretty good dose of radio frequency radiation.
In the center of the screen, I was reading between 3.5 and 4.8 mW/m2. Again, equivalent to what you might expect from a cell phone– except, of course, this isn’t a cell phone, it’s a television. Towards the bottom of the screen the levels were lower, between approximately 1.8 and 2.5 mW/m2. Not as bad as the center of the screen, but still a significant reading.
Neon Artificial Human
While the Samsung booth was one of the more popular ones (i.e., I could not take readings there) a new division of Samsung did have a booth that was less populated. It was for Neon, which they call an ‘artificial human’. It’s an odd concept, and no one is really sure what it’s for yet. But if you want to see what artificial humans from Neon look like, here ya’ go!
As you can see, the artificial humans from Neon run on TV screens. And while there was no branding on the screens, I’m assuming they were Samsung TVs, since Neon is a division of Samsung. And, as you can see, the readings were pretty surprising– between 10 and 18 mW/m2! That’s like 5-8 times higher than the Konka TV I measured.
EMF Levels from Smart Speakers
Ok, enough with the TVs. Smart speakers are increasingly popular, with devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Nest in more and more homes. I didn’t go to those booths. But I did stop by a booth where they were demonstrating a smart speaker from Belkin.
As you can see in the video, I was measuring between 3 and 8 mW/m2!
And remember, these devices are designed to be operating all the time, 24/7.
EMF Levels from Other Smart Tech
All the tech I’ve covered in this post is the type of tech that is or will be commonly owned and present everywhere. Smart TVs, smart speakers, and even wireless chargers are increasingly popular tech.
But, as you keep hearing in the news, and you definitely see when wandering a show like CES, everything is becoming “smart”. So increasingly every device will have wireless capabilities.
One example I saw from CES is the lele, which is a “smart mirror” and an “AI skincare assistant” that I saw at CES.
Now, I’ve never heard anyone say “I wish my mirror was ‘smart’ and could give me skincare advice.” But I guess someone has thought that, because that’s exactly what the folks at lululab, a South Korean company, have developed and had on display at CES.
The point is to stand in front of the mirror, wait for the cameras and sensors to analyze your face, and then the integrated AI generates a range of skincare recommendations to make you look your best. As much as I have no need for a product like this, I do admit it does sound a bit neat. So I waited in line to try it (yes, there was a line) and when it was my turn, I took out my TriField. And the levels will shock you.
That’s right. At the mirror face, I read levels from 17 mW/m2 up to in excess of 20 mW/m2! (That’s what it means when the TriField displays ‘1—-‘ on the RF setting — that the levels exceed 20 mW/m2, which is the max RF level this meter can read.)
That’s like 5 cell phones, all on active calls.
And this is from a mirror! A product that no one asked for! And you’re supposed to put your head right in front of it!
EMF Radiation Levels from Smart Tech – Taken Together
Now, some of these readings are concerning, for sure. And I’ve noted that.
But even when you consider that, you’re missing the bigger picture and the greater risk to human health. Because it’s not just that these devices emit high– sometimes very high– levels of EMF. It’s that the vision for the future being designed by these tech companies involves dozens of these products in every room in your home.
Just look at this photo from Haier where they map out their offerings for a smart living room. It includes wireless emitting tech for:
- Doors and window sensors
- Smart touch panels
- Smart sockets
- Smart TVs
- Smart door locks
- Appliance connection portal
- Robotic vacuum cleaner
- A smart air conditioner
Haier offers eight different classes of smart products for your home. And that’s just from one company, and not even the biggest one. So this doesn’t include, for example, wireless chargers, smart speakers or– dare I say– smart mirrors.
And, as these tests show you, the EMF emissions from these devices are all comparable to a cell phone– or even, in some cases, multiple cell phones. And, unlike cell phones, these technologies are designed to be always on, operating 24/7, pushing more and more EMF radiation into your home.
And that means the future of technology will exacerbate the fundamental flaw in EMF safety standards. EMF safety regulations are designed to protect you from too much EMF from a single source, like a cell phone. But in the very near future, people will be dosed with EMF equivalent to dozens of cell phones, simultaneously, 24/7.
So, the next time you see a new ‘smart’ device for your home, you can try to balance the benefits and risks of smart home technologies, and maybe consider not buying it.
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