Exradia: Angels or Demons?

Last June, I wrote about emerging company, Exradia, and their attempts to sell a magic mobile phone battery to the major handset manufacturers, such as Nokia and Sony Ericsson. Their replacement batteries are supposed to offer health benefits to their owners by jiggling around with the electrical currents in the battery. (Don’t ask me – it’s their theory.)

What was shocking about Exradia was they were not your usual flaky snake-oil merchants or slick charlatans; these were well connected and well funded business people who were out to do a professional and smooth job. However, this is is what I wrote:

My guess is that Exradia executives will spend a futile Summer camped in Sweden and Finland and, when it starts getting cold, the push into retail sales will begin. Even then, flogging magic batteries to the public is going to be hard work.

It looks like my prediction has come true. Of course the phone manufacturers did not want to know; anyone with a modicum of knowledge about the mobile industry could have predicted that. And selling a product’s dubious health benefits to the public has always been a much easier task. And so, a push into the consumer market has begun. The old CEO is out, a new one in with new money, sales staff and tactics.

Out goes, James Fintain Lawler as CEO, a man with experience at Xerox and so knowledge of doing big deals between businesses, and in comes David G. Schick from Citigroup. Now until recently hiccaughs, Citi were seen as one of the greatest retail brands in the world. It is one of the few American banks that can claim to be a truly global brand, and is the largest company in the world. David was Senior Vice President of Citigroupā€™s Global Consumer Group, responsible for consumer sales and distribution strategies – just what you want if you need to hit the retail market hard.

So the management team is all lined up for flogging this stuff big time to the public. But what the team still appears to lack is anyone who might understand the science of what they are offering. And that is not a surprise, because scientifically, the Exradia magic batteries are a flight of fancy.

Let us remind ourselves of the pseudo-scientific talk that Exradia use about their batteries,

Living matter is composed of electrically charged particles that are in constant motion thereby generating electromagnetic fields. These EMFs form part of the natural electromagnetic background and are characterised by random both in time and space. Biological cells do not respond to these natural fields.

By contrast, cell phones and other digital wireless devices emit man-made EMFs that are constant in space over the dimensional scale of groups of biologically relevant frequencies. These regular or ‘structured’ EMFs have been shown to be bio-effective. One example of such an EMF is the pulsating RF signal produced by a GSM mobile phone

Central to their claims is their statement that somehow ‘structured’ electrical fields can somehow damage cells. This is far from being scientifically accepted. In fact, it is widely regarded as nonsense. There is a lot of claptrap out there being talked about ‘information’ carrying radiowaves being dangerous, with a lot of ‘test tube’ type experiments that claim to show an effect. Behind these studies are groups who appear to relish the idea that mobile phones can be dangerous. Exradia have been sponsoring their own studies and claim then that their technology has ‘been proven to eliminate biological effects in all instances in which it has been tested in laboratory research’. But to an outsider, the research leaves many unanswered questions and looks highly implausible.

Exradia talk about ‘protection from the known risks of EMFs’, but elsewhere are the first to admit that mobiles have not been proven dangerous to health. Then they say that they offer the ‘only solution that has been scientifically proven to neutralise, at its source, the potentially harmful biological effects of radiation emitted from mobile phones’. But no studies have been done on humans. And there are lots of weasel words around like ‘may’ and ‘potentially’. I would be fascinated to see what an ASA panel or Trading Standards officer would make of it all.

So what are the new Exradia up to? Well, first, they have struck a deal with Maplins, a large electronics and hobbyist retailer in the UK. This is unlikely to satisfy their ambitions. Maplins customers are electronics enthusiasts. Fear of technology does not occur amongst their technophile customer base – and that is what Exradia want – fear that mobile phones will harm you.

If you want to use fear then you need to use a Daily Mail technique and ‘think of the children’ – and that is where Exradia are going next. They are re-branding their batteries as ‘AngelsTM‘ and starting a full scale viral advertising campaign – hitting the likes of MySpace and Facebook – and so reaching out to their audience with kid-friendly branding. A new web-site has been launched, http://www.welcomeangels.com/, that offers competitions, downloads and other gimmicks to get the kids excited. All so very 21st Century and Web 2.0. But at the heart of this campaign is a rather nasty piece of market creation. No young person is going to buy an unnecessary and expensive battery when they already have one. You need to convince them somehow that their existing battery could be doing them harm. Basic marketing. Create a fear, a gap, a need. Offer a solution.

The basic flaw in this plan though is obvious. Despite being rather kid focused, young people will not respond to this sort of marketing. They are immortal and a fear of death will not motivate them. Just look at the failure of scare tactics against tobacco or drugs and the impossibility of signing an 18 year old up for life insurance or a pension. To make fear work, you need to get the parents – you need to get to the grown up somewhere.

And so, Exradia are spreading the fear though adult channels too. The ever compliant Independent newspaper have allowed Exradia Chief Executive Mr Schick to write and advertorial scare story,

There is incontrovertible evidence that wireless use has a biological effect on cells, which could be the first link in a chain leading to health problems.

Incontrovertible it may be that blasting cells with microwaves has an effect on them. But a plausible mechanism for initiating health problems at levels experience by mobile users? That is why he uses the word could.

And Exradia have been issuing press releases to coincide with the launch of the iPhone to say that users risk ‘melting their brain’ because the iPhone battery is not replaceable with a magic Exradia battery and so ‘Apple has chosen to ignore this potential health issue’.

Personally, I find all this rather distasteful. It is a blatant attempt to cash in on people’s inherent distrust of the unknown and their susceptibility to overrate unfamiliar risks. Mobiles do kill. But it is due to the humdrum risk of mobile using distracted road users. Kids can get hurt by mobiles – but this is much more likely to be as a side effect of bullying or during theft of a handset.

The big question is – will Exradia succeed? Again a prediction. They will not last out 2008. Maybe they will sling out the sales director in six months and try another last gasp at marketing. Much money is being pumped in, but patience will not last forever. And this market is hard. People love their mobiles and change them regularly. Their priority for new accessories for their phones are not magic batteries, but media cards, covers and downloads. Exradia have a Sisyphean task of keeping up with the never ending supply of new handsets and batteries. Lots have to sold to justify the R&D, testing and manufacturing logistics demanded by such rapidly changing technology. No start up, no matter how well funded, can burn cash for long without seeing prospects of huge sales. That is not going to happen for Exradia.

And, good grief! A whole blog entry without mentioning homeopaths. What is becoming of me?

14 Comments on Exradia: Angels or Demons?

  1. Exadia will be able to keep up with R&D by the simple expedient of re-labelling the new batteries as they do with re-labelling the existing ones.

  2. Your quackometer is a predictable fix!

    Even your own site with all it’s nonesense gets a fat ZERO. You are a fraud trying to catch frauds with silly traps. Can’t you find something better to do with your time?
    Oh..you’re a scientist I forgot, I’m sorry to bother you, your self importantness.

  3. As I seem to remember commenting in your previous article, this product was never going to get off the ground. In what universe would the likes of Nokia and Ericsson flog a product that is a tacit admission that their own products cause harm?

    That’s not to say that I’m positing some sort of big conspiracy; it’s simple common sense. Despite what conspiracy theorists might think, if the weight of evidence existed that a) mobile phones cause harm to the user and b) Exradia magic batteries prevent said harm, the big manufacturers would be beating their doors down to adopt the technology.

    Any mobile phone manufacturer – or network operator for that matter – who got wind of real proof of damage caused by mobile handsets wouldn’t hush it up for longer than it took to secure an exclusive deal with Exradia (or, more likely, buy them outright) and then announce that THEIR product/network is the only “safe” version.

    This scenario is particularly true of the UK, where a largely homogenous mobile phone market (in terms of customer offerings) is causing operators enormous difficulty in standing out from the competition. A true market differentiator like this would be leapt upon with glee by the first operator who could take advantage of it, and the others would have no choice but to follow suit.

    However, before such a proposition became viable, there would damn well HAVE to be some really good evidence to justify both the capital investment and the inevitable (if temporary) backlash against mobile phone use.

    There is no such evidence. The product is worthless. The company is doomed.

    On a completely different note; what an interestingly vitriolic and sublimely weird anonymous comment you seem to have received. Do you suppose you have earned the ire of someone who has entered their own site into your search engine, perchance? šŸ˜‰

  4. your site is inherently flawed in that it should be subjective not objective – thus it is no better than the ‘quacks’ you seek to expose. you, in effect, are a ‘quack’ – king of the quacks, if you will – as you have breed and fostered a cult of ill-informed, malaperts.

    you should join emperor bush and create a whole new realm of consciousness based upon your mutual feelings of superiority to science and law. congratulations quack.

  5. Just checked the Exradia websight to see what kind of batteries are available, and most of the popular models are already sold out and on back-order. Looks like lots of people really are concerned about risks from their cell phones and are buying the batteries faster than they can make them.

  6. To make a hollow laughing! Nobody is ever going to make money selling phone batteries direct to the consumer; at least not enough to get a decent return on investment. In the UK and US at least, most people junk their old phones within two years, and the standard contract insurance from the networks means that batteries are replaced directly from the provider.

    The networks are not buying your free-panic-with-every-purchase dumbass product; I’d know if they were!

  7. this article is much better than the previous one, but you are still talking about the harmful batteries and contradict yourself by quoting Exradia’s EMF statement.
    but in the end what’s important is that, yes it looks definitely as a big scam, and the kid-oriented propaganda is oh so bad.

  8. Any incoherence on my part here is due to the lack of any coherent explanaiton by exradia about what exactly the nature of the problem is. I do not talk about harmful batteries, do I?

  9. Firstly no backlog is there – and they have not sold out – they just dont have any to sell and just give that to keep you conviced !! I have been trying to get one from them for over a year! and I keep hearing the same old story of they have sold out !! rubbish, absolute rubbish !!

  10. I have 1 test for you. Hold your arm out and have someone push down on it enough so you can still hold it up but you have to resist. Then hold a cell phone up to your heart and try it again… can you explain why you can’t hold your arm up?

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