Nokia Designs Anti-Lightning Phone, Still Working On Anti-Silly Story Phone

from the shocking dept

Over the past few years, there have been several stories about people getting struck by lightning that was somehow "attracted" by their mobile phone -- with the Great Wall of China being a popular location. While the stories are generally pretty sketchy and the science doesn't add up, some boffins at Nokia are trying to help stop the problem from ever occurring, by developing a lightning detection system for mobile phones. A patent application for the system says that special software the company has developed analyzes signals that are caused by lightning and received by a mobile phone's radios, then calculates how far away they are and warns users of imminent danger. That sounds useful, but will it be able to ward off the media stories that blindly accept the claims that mobile phones attract lightning, or are to blame for other ills?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    rEdEyEz, May 24th, 2007 @ 11:24pm

    lightning's affinity to microwaves

    Anecdotal "evidence" is about as useful as "consensus" science.

    Even if there were some measure of "truth" to the notion that cell phones are lightning rods, (preposterous), what benefit would a "detection system" serve - that your own eyes and ears couldn't already determine for you?

     

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  2.  
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    reed, May 24th, 2007 @ 11:37pm

    Hmmm

    Isn't this what they needed in Back to the Future?

     

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  3.  
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    Justin, May 24th, 2007 @ 11:53pm

    Re: lightning's affinity to microwaves

    Haha, "Warning you have just been struck by lightning!"

     

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  4.  
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    Alex Austin (profile), May 25th, 2007 @ 12:21am

    I'd be afraid of some stupid lawyer thinking that the lightning-detection makes it even more attractive to lightning, making the phone more dangerous. That, and it could tell you that the lightning is 10 miles away making you feel safe, but then not tell you the storm is 20 miles wide.

     

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  5.  
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    Khaled, May 25th, 2007 @ 12:36am

    Actually...

    This has nothing to do with science. It's pure marketing. If the media has managed to get people afraid of being struck by lightening while carrying a mobile phone, then why not use that fear to sell a product?

    You know, make them pay for their stupidity... Literally.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2007 @ 12:41am

    With all the fancy technology, silly or not, that they try stuffing into phones, you would think that by now they would have cell phones that can use caller ID data without having the person's name / number in your phone book.

    And what do you want to bet that the number of golfers getting struck by lightning goes way up because they invest too much confidence in their phone's ability to detect lightning?

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2007 @ 12:57am

    Clue me up, Scotty

    Here's my simple, no-nonsense foolproof way to detect lightning without any need for a special phone:

    1. It makes a bright flash in the sky
    2. It makes a very loud booming sound
    3. It usually occurs underneath a thunderstorm, which is visible as a spectacular and vast mass of dark grey cloud.

    If, after following the above guide you still manage to get struck by lightning, well, you probably had it coming.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2007 @ 12:57am

    Re: Re: lightning's affinity to microwaves

    BAHAHA

     

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  9.  
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    Overcast, May 25th, 2007 @ 5:48am

    Now all we have to do is sit and wait for some idiot who will sue Nokia over this because their cell phone didn't warn them of the lightning bolt that hit them.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2007 @ 6:03am

    Khaled is totally right

    Whether or not phones do anything to attract lightning isn't the point, the point is that many people *think* they do. Which means that a "lightning safe phone" is a decent thing to market, 'cos terrified peons will buy it.

    Also it'd probably help any court cases. "The phone is lightning safe, the user is obviously stupid."

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2007 @ 6:17am

    This must be one of the most ridiculous wastes of time and money I can imagine.

     

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  12.  
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    krum, May 25th, 2007 @ 6:31am

    slogans

    Now along with "The network with the fewest dropped calls" we can expect "Fewest lightning strikes." I suppose that could be worth a two year contract. ;-)

     

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  13.  
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    Vague Indifference, May 25th, 2007 @ 6:32am

    Make the call

    A lightning detection system on my cell phone will come in handy when I'm outside, making a call on the cell phone while I'm at the single pump gas station that is standing by itself 1000 feet from the nearest building or tree, on a high plateau, refueling my car, wearing my golf spikes while standing ankle deep in a puddle of water, all while wearing a wool sweater, that has rubbed against my polyester fabric seats as I got out of my running car.

     

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  14.  
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    bignumone, May 25th, 2007 @ 6:44am

    People really aren't this stupid, are they?

    I am bored so I decided to take this opportunity to take yet another shot at the stupidity of the general populace.
    I LOVE this comment;

    It makes a bright flash in the sky
    It makes a very loud booming sound
    It usually occurs underneath a thunderstorm, which is visible as a spectacular and vast mass of dark grey cloud.

    You should patent this and sell it as a fool-proof anti-lightning detection system. Make money by selling it on a card for $5 with a $100,000 guarantee not to get struck by lightning through the cell phone if the person carries the card.
    You will only collect money because the chances of getting struck by lightning alone are pretty damn slim, let alone while on the phone.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2007 @ 7:08am

    Re: People really aren't this stupid, are they?

    Watch out. The lottery might get mad at you. You have a greater chance of getting struck by lightning then you do to win the lottery (the big ones at least). Therefore, you'd have a greater chance of winning $100,000 then you would to win whatever obscene amount of money the lottery is giving out these days.

     

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  16.  
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    Teilo, May 25th, 2007 @ 7:12am

    Coincidence? I think not.

    In the past five years there are more cell phone users than ever before. In that same time period, more cell phone users have been struck by lightning than ever before.

    In fact, even more shocking, the percentage of human lightning strikes on those carrying cell phones has risen dramatically, whereas in the same time period, the percentage of lightning strikes on those who are not carrying cell phones has dropped sharply.

    This, therefore, is proof positive that cell phones are attracting lightning away from those who have no cell phones.

    It's a crisis!

     

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  17.  
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    cheez, May 25th, 2007 @ 7:57am

    Should be using this to chart lightning strikes

    You could use the aggregated data from the handsets and towers to build a data model recording all of the lightning strikes by location and intensity. That would be interesting scientific data for a carrier to publish. Perhaps with the determination of patterns in lightning strikes, we could construct specific lightning acquisition systems to recover the amperage provided by those discharges, and/or preemptively drain the static as it builds up.

    1.21 JIGGAWATTS!#!@#@! that's a lotta free power. ;-)

     

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  18.  
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    SmartAssWhizKid, May 25th, 2007 @ 8:50am

    Re: Make the call

    "A lightning detection system on my cell phone will come in handy when I'm outside, making a call on the cell phone while I'm at the single pump gas station that is standing by itself 1000 feet from the nearest building or tree, on a high plateau, refueling my car, wearing my golf spikes while standing ankle deep in a puddle of water, all while wearing a wool sweater, that has rubbed against my polyester fabric seats as I got out of my running car."


    - Might as well have a smoke too.

     

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  19.  
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    Matt, May 25th, 2007 @ 10:40am

    my phone...

    I'm going to develop a mobile application for cell phones that warns you if you get too close to idiots that have "lightning detection" software on their cell phones... i'd rather not get close to people that stupid. thanks.

     

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  20.  
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    Tin Ear, May 25th, 2007 @ 12:31pm

    Funny, but ridiculous, sad but true...

    The thing that gets me is that some people have been struck (and killed) by so-called 'blue sky lightning'. A bolt of lightning can travel approximately 10 miles in open air before striking the ground. The thunderhead would appear to be at a 'safe distance' in this case. Let's see if your phone can warn you of something like this...

     

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  21.  
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    Sanguine Dream, May 25th, 2007 @ 9:13pm

    ???

    So you mean to tell me that I can pay $200+ for a cell phone that tells time, keeps a calendar, synchs with my pc, has wireless internet, play music, watch tv, customizable ring tones, weighs .0000000001 oz., is .000000000001 millimeters thick, and hold a 1gb memory card that will now detect lightening but STILL cannot prevent a dropped call?

     

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