ElectroSmart
The first app to find your electromagnetic exposure

FAQ

Android application
Electromagnetic waves

ElectroSmart is a mobile application running on any Android device that measures, collects, and displays your real time exposition. You can also access your history as the app is running in the background and is periodically collecting your exposition. ElectroSmart collects anonymously your exposition for all the wireless technologies on your device (GSM, CDMA, 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, etc.)

There are two reasons for that. The first one is related to the Android platform and its security policy. For an application, to be able to perform Wi-Fi scans, Android requires the location permission. The reason being is that having access to information about your surrounding Wi-Fi access points can lead to a location estimate. Secondly, the measurements performed by ElectroSmart cannot be entirely useful unless they are linked to a geographical location.
Please note that we do not retrieve any personal information. Therefore, there is no way for us to link the measurements collected through your smartphone to your personal identity.

dBm is a unit of power corresponding to milliwatts on a logarithmic scale. A milliwatt corresponds to 0 dBm and each time you subtract 10 dBm, you divide by 10 the amount of milliwatts. For instance, -10 dBm corresponds to 0.1 mW, -20 dBm to 0.01 mW, -30 dBm to 1 microwatt, -60 dBm to 1 nanowatt, -90 dBm to 1 picowatt, and -120 dBm to 1 femtowatt.

The negative logarithmic scale can be difficult to understand and interpret. So, we devised a simple and intuitive unit called the e-score. The e-score or the exposition score is a positive number which when increases by one, your exposure is doubled and vice versa. An e-score of 0 is equivalent to an exposition of -140 dBm or less. The app comes with three color themes:
  1. Progressive blue
  2. Dark blue
  3. Red orange green (ROG)
Except for the dark blue theme (where the app appears in a single dark blue color), the colors of the app signify your exposition levels.
We have classified the exposition into the following three levels:
  1. High: the signal power is higher than -40 dBm (e-score: 33)
  2. Medium: the signal power is between -40 dBm (e-score: 33) and -75 dBm (e-score: 21)
  3. Low: the signal power is lower than -75 dBm (e-score: 21)

Significance of colors:
However, the levels we defined do not correspond to any level of harmfulness, because such levels are unknown. Instead, our levels correspond to common sense and are here to help you take savvy decisions. For instance, your exposure is high if you are very close to a source, medium is you are at a reasonable distance, and low when you are far away. Of course, inside buildings, your level of exposure can decrease very fast with the distance to the source. As we measure the power of the signal where you are, you only have the values that matter to adapt your environment. Considering the absence of scientific data in this context, we cannot claim that there is a value that is guaranteed to be safe. However, we can provide some relevant recommendations.

An e-score value of 30 corresponds to an exposure caused by a Wi-Fi access point 5 meters away and an e-score of 20 from 20 meters away. We can then consider that an e-score less than or equal to 20 as weak and between 20 and 30 as medium. We consider it to be reasonable to position your Wi-Fi access point in such way that its exposure value is less than or equal to 35 e-score.

Cellular networks in the other hand are a bit different. We can still use the same e-score values as a reference. But we have to pay attention to the increase in the signal emitted by your smartphone as it detects that the received signal goes down. In this case, the exposure that affects you the most would be the one generated by your smartphone. We recommend using earphones in case the e-score is low. We also suggest that you turn off your smartphone’s data while your in your pocket or close to your head (Over the night for example when you put the phone in a table close to your head). We use mW, meaning the power received by the antenna of your smartphone. In order to determine V/m ot W/m2, we need to know the antenna gain. The gain is different across different brands and models of smartphones. Which makes it difficult to make the conversions. We are working on this issue and we will add these units as soon as we have a solution that is reasonably precise. By default, ElectroSmart comes with the progressive blue theme with dark blue for a high exposure, blue for a medium exposure, and light blue for a low one. However, you can select the "red, orange, green" theme in the settings of the app. ElectroSmart can only detect your network provider’s antennas (although there are some exceptions). Our midterm goal is to have enough users to be able to combine all collected measurements into one unique value representing the different antennas.

Nonetheless, it is possible for ElectroSmart to detect the antenna that exposes you the most. To do so, you will have to put your smartphone in emergency only mode. This can be done by removing the SIM card or by rebooting your phone without typing the PIN code. ElectroSmart measures radio frequency waves. More precisely microwaves generated by telecommunication infrastructures and connected object. ElectroSmart is able to measure electromagnetic waves emitted by 2G antennas (GSM, EDGE, GPRS, CDMA, etc.), 3G (UMTS, HSPA, etc.) and 4G (LTE), by Wi-Fi access points and Bluetooth devices. However, ElectroSmart does not measure waves from your microwave oven, waves generated by powerline current, by connected water meters or electricity meter Linky. ElectroSmart aims to give you the most accurate view over your electromagnetic environment. To do so it activates all the existing antennas in your smartphone when you start the app. It does the same with Wi-Fi but you might not be able to notice it because usually we can perform the Wi-Fi scan without turning it on. For Bluetooth there is no other way to run the scan but to turn it on.

When the application is closed, we restore the antennas to their initial state.

However, when the application performs background measurements (Without you starting the application) we do not activate Bluetooth. No, there is no iOS version and we do not plan to implement one in a foreseeable future. Yes, you can, but you need to know how to install an application, and you will have to take care of the updates manually. To get the APK, contact us at es-support@inria.fr.

Electromagnetic waves are part of the human pollution. They are ubiquitous, whenever you connect to the Internet or make a phone call, you are using protocols that use electromagnetic waves to give you connectivity. So you are always exposed to electromagnetic waves generated by your activity or by the activity of people around you.

The electromagnetic waves represent a broad spectrum of waves. Communication protocols are using microwaves that are non-ionizing electromagnetic waves, which means that they were believed to do not create any health hazard at a low enough emitting power. Indeed, microwaves oven also use microwaves but at hundreds of watts, which creates a thermal effect used to heat up foods. Communication protocols emit waves at a power ranging from tens of watts to milliwatts (one thousand times smaller than a watt), supposedly low enough to do not create a harmful thermal effect. However, researches in the last 20 years conclude that beyond a thermal effect, a sustained exposition to microwaves used in communication protocols may lead to a health hazard. This might be particularly true for children who are more and more exposed to electromagnetic waves due to their increasing use of smartphones and tablets.

The good news is that the power of electromagnetic waves decreases very fast with the distance to the source. If ever you know where a source is, you can take simple actions (such as moving a bed, or switching off a source at night) to significantly reduce your exposition.

We believe that whatever the health hazard due to electromagnetic waves, you have the right to be informed on your exposition. However, as electromagnetic waves are invisible it is impossible without a dedicated measuring instrument that cost tens of thousand of euros to know your actual exposition. You can ask a regulation authority or an association to make measurements for you, but they will be limited in time and space.

This is the reason why we believe you should care. With ElectroSmart, you can take informed decisions to limit your daily exposition.

Understanding the impact of electromagnetic waves on human health is a daunting task. Numerous studies have tried to answer this question, yet we still have all of our work ahead of us to determine the exposure level above which electromagnetic waves become dangerous. To be able to say that an agent is dangerous (electromagnetic waves in this case), a link between the exposure to the agent and the appearance of a disease have to be drawn. But how can we come to such conclusion considering that electromagnetic waves are invisible to naked eye and hard to measure? Without having precise measurements we cannot assert whether or not the link existes.

ElectroSmart aims to advance our understanding of electromagnetic waves. In fact, it offers a tool that reveals your electromagnetic environment. In terms of which you can take simple actions to reduce your exposure. For example, by discovering the sources around, you can decide to shutdown source over which you have control (Such as the Wi-Fi router or Bluetooth devices) when you are not using them. Otherwise you can try to move away from the source. Usually, a few meters can be enough to drastically reduce your exposure.