Wearables like Google Glass, Samsung Gear Live and the Apple Watch are a growing tech category. But do they pose serious health risks?
These gadgets put wireless technology right on your body, increasing exposure to radio waves when we’re all already carrying wireless smartphones, laptops and tablets.
The good news is that most wearables use Bluetooth technology, which emits much lower levels of radiofrequency, or RF, than cellular-based smartphones and other devices that use Wi-Fi.
Bluetooth Low Energy, is a lower power technology than classic Bluetooth typically used in headsets, and operates at powers a lot lower than mobile phones.
The output power of some Bluetooth Low Energy trackers is so low, the FCC does not require them to be tested for Specific Absorption Rate (SAR), a measure of the rate at which energy is absorbed by the human body when exposed to RF radiation, including microwave radiation). Cellphones and laptops, on the other hand, must pass strict SAR testing requirements, since they operate at higher power levels.
But many wearables don’t limit their radiation to Bluetooth. Products like Google Glass, Recon Instruments’ Recon Jet and Optinvent’s ORA use Wi-Fi, too. And that is sounding the alarm for some health professionals.
“Wi-Fi is very similar to cellphone radiation. You definitely don’t want to put these devices near your head or near your reproductive organs” for extended periods of time, said Joel M. Moskowitz, Ph.D., director of the Center for Family and Community Health at the UC Berkeley Prevention Research Center School of Public Health.