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Student discovers iPad 2 heart device risk

Posting in Science

When Gianna Chien was given a tablet, discovering a risk that iPad 2 products present for heart patients wasn't the expected outcome.

After receiving an iPad 2 for her birthday in 2011, the 14-year old student noticed that a number of older customers were being given tutorials on how to use the tablet. Combined with her father's profession as a doctor, Chien wondered whether there were any risks for users who had heart-related devices including pacemakers and implanted defibrillators.

Chien then conducted a study involving 26 volunteers who had implanted defibrillators. The student found that in 30 percent of cases, the iPad 2 triggered "magnet mode," where the tablet's 30 magnets in the cover accidentally turn off the heart device -- which is meant to deliver an electric shock if the heart stops.

There were no problems found with pacemakers or loop-recorders.

Although the tablet's magnets are not powerful enough to cause issues when held away from the body, Chien does warn that resting it against the chest -- or falling asleep -- is a risk to heart patients.

The study was submitted to the San Joaquin County Science Fair in March, but lost out on the top spot due to an alternative project on electromagnetics. However, the project does offer valuable information and a warning to users with defibrillators, and raises questions over whether firms are making such risks clear enough.

The student says she may look at the risks of other electronic products for next year's fair.

Read More: Bloomberg

Image credit: Apple

— By on May 12, 2013, 9:52 PM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure