Smartphones, connected watches, wireless earbuds… More and more everyday things are now exposing our bodies to the waves they emit. ART-Fi strives to measure it in the most accurate way possible thanks to its unique and innovative technology.
The waves emitted by the high-tech objects around us are harmless… as long as they are still below a certain threshold. To ensure this, ART-Fi specializes in Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) measurement that makes it possible to measure the waves absorbed by the human body in watts per kilogram while using a connected object (smartphone, computer, watch, Bluetooth headphones, etc.). An amazing innovation, even if Stefan Panetrat, founder and CEO of ART-Fi, explains to us that the company’s raison d’être goes beyond a purely technological framework.
Transparent information at the service of the consumer and the manufacturer
When he created ART-Fi in 2010, Stéphane Pannetrat had one thing in mind: the consumer. Concerned about the lack of reliable information about the amount of waves emitted by the devices he uses on a daily basis, he and his team spent two years designing a machine capable of accurately, almost instantaneously measuring amplitude, phase and frequency. Telephone waves on different parts of the body (head, torso, limbs). Thus the system is able to demonstrate the non-hazardousness of the transmitted signal as well as its effectiveness and relevant information to the manufacturer and the consumer. After developing the sensors and defining the structure capable of accommodating them – D-PHASE technology – the company turned to an industrial partner, Matra Electronics, to equip the first ART-MAN product, 100% made in France.
This operation, the development of which has received the support of bpifrance in particular through a loan for innovation (PPI) and an initial loan (PA), is the first of its kind in the world. Measured in record time: It takes an average of 2 minutes for ART-MAN, compared to 45 minutes per test point for competing solutions. The process can also be performed on all phones in the production line before they are marketed – not just on a pre-production or post-marketing sample copy, as has been the case until now. Of particular interest, recalls the Chairman of the Executive Board of ART-Fi, when we know that “on average, a phone leaves the factory every 17 seconds”.
An outdated and dominant historical base
At the same time as the industrial challenge, Stéphane Pannetrat noticed an unusual situation to say the least when he verified that his machine and its measurement complied with an established standard: “The standard describes a particular technology, proposed by one company that has shut down the global market for years,” explains the leader. Not only has this standard not developed with time and new technologies and new frequencies, but it goes against the European normative principle according to which any standard should be guided by performance considerations and not describe a device in particular, in order to avoid any monopoly.
Then ART-Fi embarked on a real confrontation which, despite the pressure, only reinforced its desire to provide accurate information to the consumer. In 2014, SMEs launched internal work to speed up revision of the standard. A completed document relating to a ‘performance’ oriented criterion is submitted to the vote of all Member States that ratify the formal business draft. “This fight is really David against Goliath,” comments Stefan Panetrat. This participation in consumer safety and the mobile sector was rewarded at the end of 2019 with the publication of this new standard and then in October 2021 by the French Association for Standardization (AFNOR) through the Or’Normes Cup for Controlled Digitization, in the World Standards Day.
Internet of Things and Renewal, the New Holy Grail
Since the launch of the ART-MAN measuring machine in 2014, ART-Fi has continued to grow and now employs approximately 35 people. Its market is international, with nearly 60 machines sold worldwide. And at a time when 5G networks and the proliferation of connected devices raise many health issues, their mission is more important than ever.
The company was honored by the National Frequency Agency (ANFR, responsible for controlling the specific absorption rate of smartphones already on sale) that acquired one of its devices. At the same time, the company is committed to renovators whose niche in the market, according to ART-Fi, is on the path to exponential and rapid growth. With Itancia Again – France’s pioneer in smartphone refurbishment, which relies on ART-Fi technology to measure SAR for all its refurbished phones – ART-Fi is creating a label called “CheckWave” that certifies a verified individual. Stéphane Pannetrat explains: “This brand will be associated with 100% French knowledge and quality that the consumer can trust in terms of impact on their health and device connection performance.”
In parallel, the company is currently working with the NEXIO lab to measure the specific absorption rate of several connected organisms. “Measuring SAR is an issue of corporate social responsibility,” considers ART-Fi Chairman. The World Health Organization has ruled that the phone is likely to be a health hazard. This information, manufacturers or retailers owe it to their customers.” And in order for this measure to always be as fair as possible in the service of the common good, the company “will fight to the end, because that is its raison d’être. We are optimistic because we are convinced that public authorities and politicians will understand that there is a need to support technological advances in wireless, and modern and sophisticated assessment tools. France has the opportunity to position itself as an international leader in the subject of corporate social responsibility”, concludes Stephane Panetrat.