The people you expect to complain about the radio frequency are at it again, but don’t listen to them – the Apple Vision Pro’s Bluetooth and Wi-Fi won’t cook your brain.
We’ve said this before, over and over again. Radiofrequency (RF) radiation is not the same as ionizing radiation created by the decay of radioactive isotopes and by the sun itself. In short, RF lacks the energy that ionizing radiation has to break chemical bonds, ionize atoms, and damage DNA.
We’ll put it simply: Apple Vision Pro is not radioactive, nor is anything in it radiologically decaying in any meaningful way.
What it does have are radio frequency transmitters in the form of very low power Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chips in the device. They both transmit and receive RF radiation.
The word “radiation” sounds scary, if you know nothing about it. It’s also easy to go off base on social media or YouTube to anger your like-minded followers.
Extremely high levels of RF radiation at magnitudes much higher than what the Apple Vision Pro can deliver can heat tissue — which you practically see inside a microwave — and can cause tissue damage. However, these levels are not accessible by the public using Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or wireless technology.
A microwave generates much more radiation than the Apple Vision Pro.
The only people who need to worry about exposure to high radio frequency energy are generally workers in extremely close proximity to a very powerful transmitter, such as mobile phone antenna climbers or military radar workers.
Apple Vision Pro users don’t have to worry about RF. That is why.
AppleInsider, why are you qualified to say this?
We can talk about this because I’ve had a lot of hands-on training and experience in limiting radiation exposure. In the US Submarine fleet, one of my jobs was to measure, control and assess exposure to ionizing radiation.
As part of that training, both early and late in my career, I had training in not only that, but monitoring and controlling exposure from radio frequency transmissions from high power transmitters.
Beyond that, since almost everything Apple makes since the launch of the original AirPort products has some sort of radio transmitter, as a publication we’ve talked to lots and lots of doctors about it. Beyond the doctors, I have spoken to the actual authorities on the subject with a background in radiation physics for over 25 years.
And what the World Health Organization has to say about it is clear and easy to read. Here is the takeaway:
Considering the very low levels of exposure and research results collected to date, there is no convincing scientific evidence that weak RF signals from base stations and wireless networks cause adverse health effects.
This is a guideline repeated by the WHO for years and is renewed periodically. It was recently updated with the same conclusion at the end of 2023.
The US Food and Drug Administration has been conducting studies on this topic for 25 years. The FDA notes that there have been some studies showing small effects from the devices, but they are not reproducible.
Both the FDA and the WHO point out that given the profoundly low levels of energy involved, it is nearly impossible to rule out other causes producing biological effects in studies that found an effect.
Since the advent of Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, there has not been a statistically higher incidence of cancer attributable to anything other than better diagnostic techniques. Paradoxically, this is partly due to radio frequency-based detection methods, which lead to earlier diagnoses and better solutions.
But that still doesn’t seem like enough for some. Unlike last time, this time as a segment of the internet is back to its madness, we ARE I’m going to dig into a basic physics lesson on time, distance, shielding, and wavelengths as it pertains to Apple Vision Pro.
What are time, distance, protection and how are they important?
For any given source of exposure, the severity of exposure is in every respect controlled by the time you spend exposed to something, how far you are from something, and what protects you from that exposure and how effective it is.
Time is easy. The less time you spend near a source, the less exposure you will have to that source.
Distance is a little more complicated. In the case of radio frequency exposure from a point source, something called the inverse square law applies. In short, exposure intensity is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from that object.
A graphical representation of the inverse square law: credit Wikipedia
Practically, this means that exposure to radio frequency power at a certain distance of r is a distant fourth 2 r. This works on a very small scale as well as on a large scale.
For the scientists among us, as it pertains to the term “point source” above — there is also something called a “line source”. However, for the purposes of very small transmitters such as in the Apple Vision Pro, or the distance from a 5G transmitter, the line source math is not relevant and can effectively be ignored.
If you have a 5G iPhone, you’ve already seen the effects of the protection. You probably have great 5G outside and terrible speeds inside – this is because the higher frequency of the 5G spectrum is very effectively shielded by thinner construction materials, where the lower frequencies are not.
However, for most of the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth in the Apple Vision Pro, protection is not that important. What matters is the extremely low transmit power, the direction of the transmitters in the Apple Vision Pro, and the distance from the user.
How is tissue damage measured for radio sources?
Specific Absorption Rate, or SAR, is a measure of the rate at which the body absorbs RF energy. A SAR of 1 watt per kilogram would raise the temperature of an isolated slab of tissue by one degree Celsius per hour of exposure at that power and does not account for the loss of that temperature rise to any other factor.
Semi-relatedly, beyond the cooling that occurs in the human body through conduction through the blood and other adjacent tissues, there is also no attention paid to the healing of a system after exposure. Studies of single-celled life screaming RF damage in eukaryotes or prokaryotes are not the same as the results you get after exposure to an interconnected system of multiple cells that heal when damaged.
Unlike a trio of ionizing radiation measurement methods, SAR is a measure of that heat and not an absolute measure of damage. The heat generated is what could theoretically cause damage from RF exposure, but the measurement — and how it’s measured and regulated — is controversial.
The legal SAR limits are not even close to the point where the damage starts. Legal limits have a huge margin of safety and are set well below the point at which exposure to radio frequencies can cause harm. And, there are different legal and safe limits for extremity, head, and whole body exposure for most forms of radiation, RF or ionizing.
And, radio frequency exposure is not cumulative like ionizing radiation damage. When the RF-induced heating effect is gone, assuming the meat is not damaged by the heat, the clock of that damage is effectively reset.
How does SAR apply to Apple Vision Pro?
For Apple Vision Pro, Apple has, by law, made standard test results available. Limits vary, with SAR limits set at 1.6 watts per kilogram when averaged over one gram of tissue, and 2.0 watts per kilogram over 10 grams of tissue.
Measured RF head exposure generates 0.10 watts per kilogram over one gram of ersatz tissue and 0.08 watts per kilogram over 10 grams of tissue simulant.
There is a different legal extremity limit, which is 4 watts per kilogram over 10 grams of tissue. The limit is higher because there is no brain or sensitive eyes in the extremities.
The measurement on the wrist using the device, pressing the Digital Crown button or action is 2.96 watts per kilogram for the duration of the test, which is much longer than the actual time of pressing the buttons.
None of this is the same as the drama that caused the French radiation testing commission. In 2023, they complained that the iPhone 12 exceeded legal limits for exposure.
But, they were testing strangely. They were measuring an iPhone on a table — which transmits at a higher power than when the iPhone’s sensors (or any smartphone, from any vendor) detect that it’s near a head. In short, they were equating the contact measurement from a device half a meter away from the flesh with that which transmits in close proximity to human skin.
Position of bluetooth chips in Apple Vision Pro [iFixit]
Returning to the Apple Vision Pro, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi transmissions are different from 5G in every respect. And, they’re not close to the skin – they’re closer to the outer glass than the skin, and not a little.
Looking at when the chips are in the Apple Vision Pro, the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi chips (and transmitters) are about 2.5 centimeters from the skin. That’s five times the skin-to-skin distance of an iPhone antenna for 5G when you hold the iPhone up to your ear.
This is the “distance” aspect of time, distance and protection. There is some protection provided by the electronics, but not much in the case of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi transmissions, so it’s mostly negligible.
And the time depends on the user. As with anything and everything in life, your risk criteria apply. If you’re worried about it, don’t wear it for a whole day – even though you’re probably getting more RF exposure inside your car from the motor or electrical wires in the wall than from the Apple Vision Pro.
You are at much greater risk for developing a health condition from environmental exposure if you have a basement near a granite deposit, commute daily, get three dental x-rays a year, or fly for business at all.