Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

OU Center to Study Compatibility of Cellular Phones, Other Devices

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

OU Center to Study Compatibility of Cellular Phones, Other Devices

Article excerpt

The air over America is alive with transmissions from millions of cellular phones and other electromagnetic devices. And there are millions of computers, including those that control lifesaving medical equipment, that could malfunction if they are not properly shielded from such transmissions.

While compatibility between wireless communication devices and electronic devices that contain microprocessors has not yet become a major problem, disturbing incidents of unintended interaction have been reported, prompting some hospitals to ban the use of cellular phones on their premises.

The tremendous proliferation of both sorts of devices is producing a growing potential for interaction, explains F. Hank Grant, a University of Oklahoma industrial engineer who heads a new center created to evaluate and resolve the compatibility issue.

The initiative for the OU Center for the Study of Wireless Electromagnetic Compatibility came from four giants in the wireless communication field. Representatives from AT T, McCaw Cellular Communications Inc., Motorola and Southwestern Bell Mobile Systems approached the university in early 1994 requesting the formation of such a center.

Grant and OU faculty colleagues from both industrial and electrical engineering then visited manufacturers of electronic instruments and talked with government regulators in Washington, D.C., and representatives of various trade organizations to determine the complexity and scope of the problem.

"We came back realizing that there was indeed a need for a center to manage the interaction," said Grant, who is director of the OU School of Industrial Engineering. "At the present time, it's very difficult to predict the interaction among these devices."

Sources for electromagnetic signals include cordless and cellular phones, garage door openers, wireless modems, police radios and walkie talkies.

The variable nature of these signals compounds the problem, Grant said. …

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