/ 25 June 2015

Wi-fi market penetration linked to pregnancy

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Move over Apple and Samsung, the latest tech rivalry is in town – and it’s to do with a router aimed at pregnant women.

A Chinese tech firm, Qihoo, has launched an upgrade to its P1 router, which features three settings: “wall penetration”, “balance” and … er, “pregnant women”.

Quite aside from this product not being a good enough reason to use the word “penetration”, the router has upset a rival firm, Xiaomi. It has released its own new router, the Mi. The firm took to social media site Weibo to denounce Qihoo’s product as scaremongering. “The so-called pregnancy mode [of Qihoo’s router] is just a marketing tactic. Wi-fi usage is safe, so please rest assured when using it [Xiaomi’s router].

“We firmly oppose, and feel ashamed of, those who create rumours and arouse instability for business purposes.”

Zhou Hongyi, the chief executive and president of Qihoo, hit back with the rather brilliant but ominous statement: “We will wait and see who has a more profound understanding of wi-fi routers, me or our competitors.”

Hongyi claims that the upgraded P1 router protects pregnant women from any harm from signals, because it reduces radiation by about 70%. “We are targeting people who are afraid of radiation,” he said.

But in a statement to South China Morning Post, Qihoo acknowledged that no definitive link has been made between wi-fi signals and poor health. “We aren’t scientists. We haven’t done many experiments to prove how much damage the radiation from wi-fi can cause. We leave the right of choice to our customers.”

Debate about the safety of electromagnetic fields has grown in recent years, but according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), there is no empirical evidence to suggest health implications.

“The overall weight of evidence shows that exposure to fields at typical environmental levels does not increase the risk of any adverse outcome such as spontaneous abortions, malformations, low birth weight, and congenital diseases.

“Based on a recent in-depth review of the scientific literature, the WHO concluded that current evidence does not confirm the existence of any health consequences from exposure to low-level electromagnetic fields.”

It remains to be seen whether Qihoo will bring out a router with a specific setting for women in that awkward, panicky stage of having a late period and fearing the worst (like raising a child with Garth from IT), but we live in hope. – © Guardian News & Media 2015