Are Baggage Check Scanners Harmful To Kindles?
November 21, 2011

Are Baggage Check Scanners Harmful To Kindles?

Reports of Amazon Kindle units damaged by airport scanners have begun to spread across the Internet, leading some to believe that the radiation given off during these security checks could permanently damage the electronic ink displays of the devices.

According to Christopher Williams, Technology Correspondent for the Telegraph, people are being warned that X-ray scanners could throw a wrench in the reading plans of anyone planning to travel for the upcoming holidays. Likewise, Daily Mail writer Ted Thornhill reports the machines could be scrambled during radiation given off by the airport devices during baggage checks.

Users have taken to Kindle-related forums and other online message boards to sound off about the issue, according to Thornhill. The Daily Mail reports one customer said that her son's Kindle "looked like a magic eye etch-a-sketch" after it passed through an X-ray scanner in a New York airport.

Another user, however, argued that there was "absolutely no proof, evidence nor technical possibility" that the scanners were to blame for problems with the Kindle, or any other electronic reading device, and that such reports were merely "rumor and unfounded speculation with no basis in fact."

One Kindle owner, London resident Michael Hart, shared his tale with Williams.

"After my Kindle went through the X-ray scanner at Madrid airport, it no longer worked. I had been reading an e-book on the way to the airport so I knew there could be no other reason," he said. "A phone call was made and someone came along and took photographs of the bad display. It's my belief that the scanner operator -- who subsequently questioned me about a radio in my bag -- had used a high dose to look into the radio, and the Kindle, too."

"I don´t think the radiation used in an airport scanner would ever be strong enough to damage an electronic ink display," countered Professor Daping Chu, Chairman of the University of Cambridge center for Advanced Photonics. "But you can get a build-up of static inside these machines, caused by the rubber belt rubbing. If that charge were to pass through a Kindle, it´s conceivable that it could damage the screen."

An Amazon spokesman denied the reports, telling the Telegraph that "exposing your Kindle to an X-ray machine, such as those used by airport security, should not cause and problems with it“¦ Many Kindle users travel by air, and their Kindles are screened by airport security every day without issue."


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