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Moscow start-up turns smart phones into multi-purpose radiation detectors

11 Nov '11
Oleg Kouzbit, Online News Managing Editor

Moscow-based IT start-up Intersoft Eurasia has developed a tiny mobile ‘radiation watchdog’ to monitor radiation levels and alert users to hazardous changes. Its $10-50 Do-Ra dosimeter-radiometer can sit either inside or outside a standard cell or smart phone; helps check radioactivity in humans, livestock and property; and is GLONASS/GPS-compatible. With Sony Eriksson and Fujitsu already in the know and the market estimated in the “billions”, the 20-month-old startup looks like it may have a tiger by the tail.

Word came last week that Intersoft Eurasia was in talks with Sony Ericsson and Fujitsu over the embedding of its Do-Ra radiation monitoring chip and software into their cell and smart phones.

The Do-Ra dosimeter-radiometer was invented by the firm’s CEO and patent-holder Vladimir Yelin after the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. Armed with the new device, any mobile phone can be turned into radiation monitor to check on radiation levels.

According to the CEO, the potential global demand for mobile radiation metering systems is $20bn.

Satellite enabled and then some

The dosimeter takes full advantage of a smart phone. It can not only measure levels, but be programmed to take random readings from hours and days to months and years; alert tolerance, and dose limits of radiation using the phone’s voice system; provide diagram information about the status of the owner’s organs affected by one-time exposure or an accumulated dose; as well as deliver voice or text recommendations to the phone owner regarding possible precautions.

It can even exchange satellite data with GLONASS and GPS navigation systems and automatically send its holder real-time reports, using a mobile operator, on radioactivity at his or her location.

Another advanced feature is the Do-Ra-equipped phone’s ability to automatically transmit the holder’s radioactive environment data to a radiation data processing center for analysis and then receive and display center-generated information on radioactive contamination in the form of visualized maps for a given terrain, water area, or another relevant site.

The Do-Ra reportedly comes in clip-on and built-in options. Intersoft Eurasia says it is ready to retail the former for $30-50 apiece. When fully integrated in cell or smart phone hardware the latter is expected to shed up to 80% of its price to a very competitive $10.

The developer

Intersoft Eurasia is a 20-month-old start-up established to develop software for a broad variety of IT applications. Last month the company joined the Skolkovo innovation program outside Moscow and is now seeking a small $50k grant from the Skolkovo Foundation to further work on its Do-Ra project.

The prime mover in this innovative project is Vladimir Yelin, Intersoft Eurasia CEO and chairman of Smart Logistic Group. He is also the main investor in the Do-Ra project since its inception.

Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, Android and Windows, and more

The semiconductor detector based dosimeter-radiometer is powered from its ‘parent’ phone’s battery. For the built-in option, there’s a special software package that controls the device’s interaction with the phone.

The clip-on version is also software enabled and attaches to the phone’s USB port. Its detector communicates with the base device via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or any other system that the phone and local telecoms support. With the kind of universal connectivity the Do-Ra can be linked up to a laptop computer as well, according to the developers.

The software Intersoft Eurasia has developed allows the Do-Ra to work with iOS and Android-based devices and applications for MacOS, RIM’s BlackBerry, Windows and Linux are coming within a month or so, the company says.

Next gen already in the works

According to Intersoft Eurasia, the next generation of its product will be based on graphene—an allotrope of carbon with a one-atom-thick sheet structure and unique properties that won researchers Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov their 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Mr. Yelin, the lead innovator and designer behind the Do-Ra project, reportedly holds a patent for a graphene-based prototype as well.

The global market

Unlike Western Europe that wants to phase out its nuclear energy facilities Russia is allocating billions on new ones. The most recent announcement came just this week: a 2,300MW power station will be built about 200km south-west of Nizhny Novgorod.

The developer has plans to primarily market its innovative Do-Ra system to the populations and nuclear energy professionals living in Russia’s nuclear power sites and other areas with increased radioactive hazard. Longer-term potential markets reportedly include as many as an estimated one billion people across South-East Asia, the U.S. and other nuclear-active countries.
Oleg Kouzbit, managing editor: “I’m glad you join us here and take The Bridge walk for Marchmont’s weekly review of the Russian regions’ innovative present and future. Stay close and you’ll find out more of how Russia is bridging the existing gap between its researchers and businesses.”
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