Sunday, October 28, 2007

The iPod killer

The Sunday Telegraph has got a somewhat eye-catching headline this morning:

MP3s 'may interfere with pacemakers'

Blimey! So that's what the protection is for in those non-mp3, DRMed files. We thought all along it was something to do with the big entertainment companies, but instead... they were saving people's broken hearts.

It turns out they mean mp3 players rather than the actual mp3s:
Researchers at the Children’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, will start extensive tests on how four different brands of MP3 player affect children and adults fitted with pacemakers.

Still... blimey. People being killed by their iPods, eh?
Research undertaken at Michigan State University earlier this year found that when an MP3 was held two inches from a patient’s chest for five to 10 seconds it interfered with pacemakers in half the 100 people studied.

The pacemaker was unable to effectively monitor how fast the heart was beating and was unable to regulate its speed, causing concern that it could lead doctors to mis-diagnose heart problems.

But, surely, the problem of misdiagnosis would only come if a doctor was checking a patient who had their player balanced on their chest while they were being checked up? And there's a strong argument that a patient who continues to listen to their music player while their doctor is trying to help them - if such patients exist - might have other, more pressing, social problems to deal with first.

The Telegraph concludes with an expert who, effectively, ruins their story for them:
June Davison, cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said pacemakers have metal cases to shield them from outside interference.

She added: "On rare occasions, some electrical gadgets can potentially interfere with pacemakers, so it is sensible to keep these devices directly away from pacemakers.

"If you have a pacemaker and are sitting next to someone with an MP3 player it is extremely unlikely that it will interfere with your pacemaker."

In other words: like other electrical equipment, it's probably best if you don't carry it in your shirt pocket, just to be doubly safe.

In other research, the giving of Zunes as gifts has been directly linked to the breaking of recipients hearts.