We all know the drill…”Please power off and stow away all electronic devices…”. And while most of us readily comply, that doesn’t stop some inconsiderate passengers and also many of us from accidentally leaving on our cell phones and tablets during take-off. But just what are the chances of wireless interference and is there a way to regulate their use safely?
This past week, after years of debate, misinformation and silence, the FCC has issued a letter to the FAA calling on the FAA to “enable greater use of tablets, e-readers, and other portable devices” during flights. This mandate is easier said than done since an expensive and comprehensive study has yet to be conducted concerning wireless interference from consumer electronics to airborne aircraft navigation and communications. Regardless of any future study’s conclusion, this doesn’t address the issue right now. If there is even a shred of possibility that our smartphones could cause an aircraft incident, can any of us fly comfortably knowing that fellow passengers are potentially putting all of our lives in danger?
Berkeley Varitronics Systems has developed a passive yet sensitive receiver that poses no chance of ever interfering wirelessly with any aircraft controls. PocketHound™ cell phone detector is a simple (one button operation), low cost ($499) and covert (its in any pocket) device that detects any cell phone use up to 75 feet away. This includes talkers, texters and browsers on smartphones. In the case of air travel, the PocketHound could be easily held or pocketed by flight attendants. The receiver would first alert attendants that cellular activity is present. And as they walk the aisles, the PocketHound lights up and vibrates more as they draw closer to the offending user and their device. In the case of accidentally powered on phones, the PocketHound™ still registers small indications of cellular activity in the form of beacons to and from phones to nearby cell towers. A 2nd or 3rd announcement to all passengers again would remind those who forgot to shut off their phones to comply before take-off. PocketHound cell phone detector arms airlines, pilots, flight attendants and passengers with security and peace of mind. In an age of terrorism, hacking and the ubiquity of smartphone devices, we need something a little more than the honor system.