Solution 'is at hand' for wireless cancer concerns
A Hong Kong-based toymaker has designed a plastic bracelet that doubles as a wireless handset - and he hopes that fears of cancer links to mobile phones will help it catch on.
The Stretch Earzee uses Bluetooth technology to connect to a mobile phone wirelessly. Part of the bracelet vibrates to indicate an incoming call, and to answer it, you press a button and wrap the stretchable cord around your fingers to position the microphone over your mouth and speaker over your ear.
'I'm expecting a rush on these ... it's going to take off and we need to be ready to supply hundreds of thousands of them, not tens of thousands,' designer Peter Fish said .
The 62-year-old recently retired from his toy company, Fish Toys, which he founded in Sydney 35 years ago. Now he hopes to make it big with his latest design. 'I'm playing with the big boys now,' he said. 'Toys are nice and very easy but I think this game might be a bit vicious.'
As will many inventions, Fish's idea grew out of another problem. 'I wanted to develop a Bluetooth device, but nearly all of them are worn in the ear. In terms of radiation, it's only one-tenth of what your phone gives out, but it's still there in your ear, going through your brain.
'Your wrist, on the other hand, can absorb a lot more radiation. There's no soft tissue, no organs.'
Last week, the World Health Organisation released a report linking mobile phone use with an increased risk of brain tumours.
The report's authors recommended mobile phone users send text messages or use a hands-free device. 'That report backed up what I and many others believed,' Fish said.
'But I'm not against smartphones. I think they save more lives than they hurt people. I'm not trying to say lose your smartphone [but] use it sensibly.'
Fish said he would love to form a partnership with mobile phone companies: 'They should be giving these wrist phones away, and I can do a special price for them', he offered.
Fish said Hong Kong and Australia will be his first test markets for the device, which he described as a practical fashion accessory. 'It looks cool and we're doing colours - pink for the ladies, pastels and a nice blue one.'
It will retail for HK$300 and should be available within eight weeks. The devices will be made at two factories in Guangdong where Fish used to have his toys made.
Michael Milligan, secretary general of the Mobile Manufacturers Forum, said there were many hands-free devices in Hong Kong but could not comment on whether this particular design would be successful.
Fish will run an advertising campaign in Australia with the slogan: 'Wear the band and talk to the hand.'
This is the number of deaths every year in the US attributed to people distracted by mobile phones, a study released in 2005 finds