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Kill Switch: An effective tool to prevent smartphone thefts

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New York: Have you equipped your costly smartphone with a ‘kill switch’? If not, then do so immediately as this may save you several thousand rupees and a lot of embarrassment due to lost data.

The “kill switch” option allows the owners to remotely disable, or “kill”, their phone if it is stolen. The process is also known as “bricking” – transforming the phone from a valuable piece of electronic equipment into a mere plastic brick.

A study published by Consumer Reports suggests that kill-switch technology is already having an effect: in 2013, 3.1 million Americans had their phones stolen, but in 2014 that number dropped to 2.1 million, a consumer affairs website reported.

The rationale behind kill switches is to discourage smartphone thefts: thieves would not bother stealing phones if they know the phones’ legitimate owners will immediately be able to brick them and render them worthless.

Samsung developed the app as early as 2013, yet companies including Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, United States Cellular Corporation, and Sprint responded by preventing Samsung from pre-loading the app.

This in turn inspired New York’s attorney general in December 2013 to ask those wireless carriers why they would not allow it, and urged carriers to embrace the technology “as a simple yet effective way to protect” smartphone owners from theft.

Now, California has become the second US state after Minnesota where the law mandates that all smartphones sold in the state come equipped with a ‘kill switch’. (IANS)

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Blue Light From Smartphones Accelerates Blindness

Blue light introduced to other cell types in the body, such as cancer cells, heart cells and neurons, they died as a result of the combination with retinal. Blue light alone or retinal without blue light had no effect on cells.

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Young people using smartphones. (Photo courtesy Kuvituskuvat via Flickr) (VOA)

Are you addicted to your smartphones, laptops and tablets? The blue light emitting from these digital devices can affect your eye’s retina and lead to age-related macular degeneration, according to a research led by a professor of Indian-origin.

Macular degeneration, an incurable eye disease that results in significant vision loss starting on average in a person in his 50s or 60s, is the death of photoreceptor cells in the retina. Those cells need molecules called retinal to sense light and trigger a cascade of signalling to the brain.

The findings showed that blue light exposure causes retinal to trigger reactions that generate poisonous chemical molecules in photoreceptor cells.

 The blue light emitting from these digital devices can affect your eye's retina
The blue light emitting from these digital devices can affect your eye’s retina . Flickr

“We are being exposed to blue light continuously, and the eye’s cornea and lens cannot block or reflect it,” said Ajith Karunarathne, Assistant Professor, University of Toledo in Ohio, US.

“It’s no secret that blue light harms our vision by damaging the eye’s retina,” he added.

Since photoreceptors, produced in the eye, are useless without retinal, one needs a continuous supply of retinal molecules to see.

“It’s toxic. If you shine blue light on retinal, the retinal kills photoreceptor cells as the signalling molecule on the membrane dissolves,” explained Kasun Ratnayake, doctoral student researcher at the varsity.

How blue light accelerates blindness
If you shine blue light on retinal, the retinal kills photoreceptor cells. Pixabay

“Photoreceptor cells do not regenerate in the eye. When they’re dead, they’re dead for good.”

In the study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, when the team introduced blue light to other cell types in the body, such as cancer cells, heart cells and neurons, they died as a result of the combination with retinal. Blue light alone or retinal without blue light had no effect on cells.

Also Read: Treating Blindness With Stem Cell Therapy

“The retinal-generated toxicity by blue light is universal. It can kill any cell type,” Karunarathne said.

To protect your eyes from the blue light, wear sunglasses that can filter both UV and blue light outside and avoid looking at your cell phones or tablets in the dark, he suggested. (IANS)

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