I get a lot of questions from customers and concerned people from around the world about the health risks of EMF radiation from smart homes. This post demonstrates the EMF emissions from smart tech devices– and one of the most effective ways you can protect yourself from them.
What Are the EMF Levels from Smart Tech?
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, the only way to know is to test the EMF for yourself.
But who has the time to go around and test so many different types of technology from so many different companies?
Well, fortunately, each year Las Vegas is home to the world’s largest annual gathering of businesses in consumer technology, showing off their latest technology. The show is called the Consumer Electronics Show (or CES, for short), and it’s run by the Consumer Technology Association (or CTA).
And so, as I’ve done in other years, I took my TriField TF2 to the recent CES show in Las Vegas. And as I walked around in awe at some of the incredible technology on display from some of the world’s leading innovators, I also took some readings. And recorded them with my phone.
(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 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 I compare these emissions to cell phones for a reason: because we all have them, and the negative health risks of cell phone EMF are actually relatively well understood.
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 flaws 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– in fact, for many people, this is already the case.
So all of this naturally leads to the question: what can you do to protect yourself from the EMF emissions from smart tech and smart homes?
Are Smart Homes Really the Future as Forecasted?
With a revenue forecast of $62.3 billion in 2021, the smart home industry was something that everyone had high hopes for. But, as 2021 arrived, the forecast changed, and now it’s down to $15 billion with just an 11% increase in unit sales—significantly lower than expected.
So, what happened? Weren’t people super excited about this? Wasn’t it something that could push us towards the future?
According to experts, here are some reasons for the smart home industry’s unexpected decline.
It’s Still in its Infancy
If predictions had been accurate, right now, no one would have any reason to self-drive, go to the grocery store, or worry about whether they’d locked the door before leaving home. But we’re not there yet. In fact, we’re far from even being close.
Technology and innovation are ongoing processes. But to keep them going, the industry needs money. And for that, they need to sell their tech to consumers.
Now, as soon as customers start buying gadgets, the room for error becomes significantly narrow. If there’s an error, it will directly affect sales, giving the industry less money to work on improvements. That’s what is happening with the smart home market.
See, not everyone wants to pay for a product that’s in its beta testing phase, disguised as the final product. And not everyone has the time and patience to wait for their gadget to work properly.
If you glance at data from the past, the last satisfactory wave of innovations happened in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Beyond that, it seems like companies are just trying to figure out how to make their new devices work.
Below is a list of some customers’ concerns with smart devices, delivered in the form of funny tweets:
This doorbell has a note saying, “Kloppen sup want, Google is down,” which translates to, “Please knock because Google is down.”
This person posted an image saying, “Just updated firmware on our Xmas tree!”.
Casey Neistat, a famous YouTube vlogger, posted saying, “I forgot the login credentials for my robot vacuum; WHAT A COMPLETELY INSANE THING TO SAY.”
Another funny tweet of smart tech fails comes to us from an American journalist, Bridget Carey:
While these tweets may seem funny, these are real problems that consumers are facing. If we rely on smart homes for everyday life to run smoothly, errors like these are truly unacceptable.
Too Many Systems to Choose From
When the tech industry marketed the idea of smart homes, it wasn’t nearly the same as what we have today. What the industry promised and the consumers expected was some kind of centralized system through which we could control and automate our homes. Right now, what we have is tens of devices connected to each other—not exactly new per se.
So, deciding on what to buy in the first place is also a challenge on its own. If you don’t spend hours researching devices that work together, you can easily end up with a pile of smart gadgets that you can’t use for their intended purposes.
· Samsung’s SmartThings lights don’t work with Apple’s Siri assistant.
· Liftmaster garage door voice opener only works when you connect it through IFTTT, a third-party service.
· Even the minuscule task of playing music across multiple smart speakers involves a mess of proprietary protocols.
These are just a few examples, and there are dozens more.
So, will smart homes ever be as smart as we thought they would be?
It’s possible that sometime in the future, we’ll have an array of devices working together in clever and delightful ways. Maybe we’ll have alarm clocks that know how to open blinds and turn off the lights on their own in the morning. Or thermostats that will adjust the room temperature when they sense that you’re not able to rest comfortably. But that’s certainly going to take a lot of time.
Either way, the EMF concern remains the same, even if the so-called “Centralized Smart Home Control” becomes a reality. But then, you’ll be at least getting something valuable out of it. Right now, most people are just adding a ton of new EMF sources into their homes that don’t properly do what they’re intended to do.
So, my recommendation is to stay away from tech you don’t need.
However, if you have already purchased these devices, here are some ways you can mitigate your EMF exposure so you can enjoy your gadgets without having to risk your health.
How to Protect Yourself from Smart Home EMF
As I say over and over again, the best EMF protection is free. That’s because the two most important rules to protect yourself from EMF are:
- to minimize your use of these devices; and
- to maximize the distance of these devices from your body.
When it comes to smart homes, as you’ve seen above in this post, the sources will literally surround us in our homes. Our fridges, our thermostats, our vacuum cleaners– these companies want every “thing” in your home to be smart. That makes the second rule, to maximize distance, more difficult– because these sources will be everywhere in our homes.
And that leaves the first rule: minimize use.
Throughout this blog, I encourage people to take a more mindful approach to their use of and relationship with technology. Yes, technology brings many benefits. But it also incurs many costs, including to your physical health from EMF exposure.
And that’s why, for example, I tell people to never sleep with their phones (or to turn them into airplane mode if you do). Because when you’re sleeping, you’re not getting any benefit from your phone, but you’re still being exposed to its EMF emissions. So there’s a real cost, with no benefit. And once you think in that way, it doesn’t make any sense to engage in that activity.
When we evaluate whether to purchase a new piece of smart tech, we are tempted to look only at the benefit it promises to bring us, to benefit our lives and create joy. And often, people do not consider the real costs. And that means people are not engaging in an accurate cost-benefit analysis.
We overexpose ourselves to too much EMF radiation on a daily basis. It’s important to realize it’s an unhealthy habit.
With the health risks of smart homes and other wireless technology, and the ever-expanding definition of a “smart home” growing by the day, now more than ever you need to be smart about what you buy and how you use your electronic devices.
So yes, it is fine to use and enjoy modern technology. But there are also times when you should take precautions to use it less.
And that’s why SYB Healthy Living Tip #12 is ‘Stop Buying Smart Stuff You Don’t Need.’
Ultimately, it’s up to you to look at your life and determine whether the benefit of that shiny new gadget is worth the incremental risk it represents to your health.
So, ask yourself these 3 questions to get smart about your smart devices:
1. Do I really need this?
When considering buying a new device, it’s easy to get swept up in the thought of all the cool things you’ll be able to do if you buy it. But we often don’t stop to ask ourselves: Do I really need this?
Will this device improve my life considerably? Or will it just be a toy that’s fun for a little bit. Be careful to not get swept up in the moment and become blindsided to the risk just because you want another shiny device.
Remember, anything you don’t have is alluring, but once you’ve had it for a little while the luster can wear off.
2. Is it worth the health risk of smart tech?
Each additional smart device you buy comes with a cost to your health. The more EMF you are exposed to, the more likely you are to experience negative health effects that are linked to EMF exposure. There is no safe level of EMF, and each additional source of EMF in your life adds to your cumulative exposure.
So, you need to ask yourself each time you consider buying or using a device: Is it worth the risk?
Take a bit to consider the risks inherent in over-using technology and, if you can’t answer yes, consider putting it down and adopting a healthier course of action.
3. Will this make me happier?
This particularly has to do with buying a new device, but it also has to do with your regular use as well. Perhaps the most important question of all is simply: Will this make me happier?
Sure, some devices make our lives easier. However, it’s important to remember that, in most cases, we were living just fine without it before we had it.
Don’t get caught up thinking you need or must have something just because it’s the latest gadget. Ask yourself the most important question of all and get clarity on what is really important.
By answering specific questions such as these, it will help you get down to what really matters and get smarter about your use of technology.
The Risks of Smart Homes are Real
The risks of smart homes and new EMF-emitting devices are real, but new technology won’t stop being developed anytime soon.
It’s your life, so it’s up to you to make the smart choice. So think about it: do you really need that new “smart” device? What’s it worth to your health risk?
So the next time you really want that new smart gadget, take a minute and ask yourself: do you really need it? Will it really add value to your life? And if the answer isn’t an immediate ‘yes’, maybe consider skipping it.
Remember: use tech more mindfully.
And that’s the single best protection against the health risks from smart tech EMF radiation.