The effects of cell-phone radiation on our bodies are uncertain. Scientific studies have linked heavy mobile use to changes in brain metabolism, sleep disturbance, and even sperm damage in men. And while those concerns remain inconclusive, the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) recent decision to further investigate the issue at least signals that we might want to consider taking some precautions.
The problem is that iPhones and cases are highly designed to entice us. Cases are kind of like our phones’ way of dressing up. Sadly, the cases that actually do their job—preventing our phones from shattering when they hit the ground—come off looking like kneepads: bulky and nerdy. Pong, maker of radiation-diverting smartphone accessories, has teamed up with design firm Ideo to deliver a more elegant solution: the Gold Reveal, a snap-on protective case for smart gadgets that’s equal parts safety and eye candy.
In 2007, Pong began early-stage development for products that could effectively redirect cell-phone radiation away from a user’s head and body, and released its first product in 2009. A Pong case works because of its antenna, says Todd DeYoung, Pong’s president and CEO. "When a Pong case is snapped onto a phone, the paper-thin antenna embedded in the case establishes an electric field with the antenna inside the phone," DeYoung tells Co.Design. This steers the energy away from the front of the device (the user-facing side) and toward the Pong case instead.
The early cases were novel for their promised functionality but looked like rubbery helmets for phones. For the new iteration, Pong tapped Ideo for a new look. The design studio took a counterintuitive approach, and decided to show off Pong’s tech (the paper-thin gold antenna) instead of hiding it beneath a coat of paint.
"In the very early stages of working with the Pong team, we discovered that people who were using the cases were passionate about the brand and were eager to share their personal experiences. The final design reflects this intent: Users can see the gold antenna through a sophisticated, 3-D lattice pattern," Blaise Bertrand, Ideo’s design director, tells Co.Design. Hence the product’s name: Gold Reveal.
Ideo’s design language communicates utility above all: According to DeYoung, the newest Pong products can reduce radiation absorption by up to 89%. And part of the magic of Pong’s process is that it maintains and even strengthens the signal from the back of the iPhone or iPad. Ideo’s spin on packaging puts that tech front and center, and the exposed antenna (which is actually made of copper and plated in gold) has the added advantage of providing much-needed bling.
Pong’s Gold Reveal for iPhone 5 costs $60. See the whole line of products here.
All photos courtesy of Pong Research Corporation.