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The Apple iPad is the most popular tablet in the mobile industry, and has been since its inception, but while the Cupertino slate can do no wrong when it comes to helping consumers part with their money, a study by a 14-year-old Californian student has revealed that the device can potentially interfere with implanted defibrillators.

Many of those with heart problems are fitted with pacemakers to keep their tickers beating at regular intervals. But as revealed by Gianna Chien, a student from Stockton, California and the daughter of a cardiac electrophysiologist, the Apple iPad – in particular, its magnets – can interfere and even accidentally turn off these vitally important medical devices.

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Chien has been presenting her study to over 8,000 doctors at the Heart Rhythm Society, which outlines a scenario whereby a person with a pacemaker falls asleep with the iPad 2 on their chest. The magnets, which reside beneath the bezel in compliance with the Smart Cover and other such peripherals, can have a significant effect on those with defibrillators, and whilst this potential situation could only arise in a small number of people, Chien is right in saying that awareness should be raised.

iPad 2 uses a sum total of 30 magnets to retain the position and effectivity of the Smart Cover, and while, as Chien notes, they aren’t a problem when the device is being held and used normally, they can present an issue when rested on the chest.

The iPad was found to have triggered ‘magnet mode’ in almost one third of the 26 volunteers tested with operational defibrillators, and although pacemakers were found to be unaffected in this small-scale study, anybody with any kind of medical technology should be somewhat alarmed by this.

Obviously, the take-home from this is, if you do have a pacemaker or any kind of electronic device keeping such a vital organ running to standard, you must proceed with caution when using an iPad. As trivial and innocuous as it may sound, the dangers have clearly been highlighted, and with most of us having fallen asleep clutching our smartphone or tablet devices at one time or another, it is something that can easily occur.

When reached for comment, Apple declined to make any kind of statement, but did refer the news publication to the iPad’s product guide which advises those with pacemakers to keep the device at least six inches away at all times.

(Source: Bloomberg)

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