A Russian company Intersoft-Eurasia is developing dosimeter-radiometer module for Project Ara smartphone. The module, called DO-RA.Module, is based on a semiconductor sensor. Vladimir Elin, the CEO of the company, expects that a ready-for-market module will be developed by year’s end, the time when Ara smartphones market pilot will be rolling out in Puerto Rico. It will be priced at about $50.
History of DO-RA
Intersoft-Eurasia is a young Russian technology company that develops a mobile dosimeter-radiometer called DO-RA. Vladimir Yelin is the founder of the company. He came up with the idea of small personal dosimeter-radiometer shortly after Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan in March 2011.
The DO-RA device is based on Geiger-Muller counter. Initially the classic Geiger-Muller tube was used as the main element of the counter. The tube contained two electrodes, the anode and the cathode, and was filled with inert gas. Once ionizing radiation entered the Geiger-Muller tube, it ionized the gas inside, transforming it into electrons and positively charged ions. That caused an electric discharge between the two electrodes. The current was detected and the device calculated the level of radiation based on the frequency of the electrical discharges. But such approach had a large error. So Vladimir decided to develop the next generation technology to create a new sensor based on semiconductor technology, which is much more precise.
Up to date Vladimir has obtained more than 50 patents for DO-RA in different countries. Currently Intersoft-Eurasia is at the late stage of obtaining the design patents. Obtaining of the patent for radiation detectors based on semiconductor sensor technology is at the final stage as well. $1,6 million has been invested in the development (grant of $0,8 million was received from Russian innovation center Skolkovo, another $0,8 million are Intersoft-Eurasia own investments). Now the company is actively developing and testing the prototype model of dosimeter based on semiconductor technology.
In future Intersoft-Eurasia is going to produce portable DO-RA.Ultra-Blue device, which will work with any kind of smartphone, tablet, laptop or PC. The device will present a small box, and connection is assumed to be wireless through Bluetooth 4.0. Vladimir has already established partnership agreements with several electronics manufacturers in Russia and Asian countries. Some large electronics manufacturers in South Korea have even shown interest to integrate DO-RA technology in some of their products.
DO-RA and Project Ara
Once Google made an announcement about Project Ara, Vladimir decided to create DO-RA module for Ara phone. Intersoft Eurasia applied for $100K Project Ara developer challenge that was announced at the first Ara Developers Conference back in 2014. One week after Vladimir had sent the promotional video to Google about radiation dosimeter module, Intersoft received the Spiral 1 developer board. Since then the development of DO-RA module for ARA phone was a go.
Several months later a working prototype had been made and presented to Google ATAP (Advanced Technology and Projects group). Google thruly recognized the outstanding idea of Vladimir Elin, and Intersoft received an invitation to the second Developers Conference in Singapore, where the DO-RA module was introduced to a wider circle of developers. Later Vladimir met ATAP team again at Mobile World Congress 2015 in Barcelona and they are in close cooperation since then.
Right now Vladimir is awaiting Spiral 2 development board and shells of different sizes, in which the electronics board and other components of module will be mounted. He expects the final version of the device called DO-RA. The module will be completed by the end of 2015 when the market pilot of Ara phone is expected to be launched.
Demand and possible markets for DO-RA devices
The demand for radiation dosimeters is estimated to be fairly high across the world, especially in Japan. In 2013 Vladimir ordered a marketing research report from one Japanese company. Their projected calculations were that if DO-RA devices had been launched on a Japanese market at that very moment, the first month demand could have been 40-50 thousand of sold units. Over the course of the year sales would have totalled some 500 thousand. From that point on the market would have stabilized and showed its true capacity. Overall, the Japanese market is ready to accept 3-6 million devices per year. The global demand would likely be 10-15 million devices per year. Once a smaller size of new generation of dosimeters makes them easier to use, the demand could reach much higher levels than the initial report claimed two years ago.
All people are subject to radioactivity in their everyday life. To varying degrees radiation is observed at absolutely every corner of the globe. For example, granite, mica, certain types of clay, marble and other substances emit radiation. In most parts of the world the radiation has a normal level. But in some cases the levels of radiation are much higher than a body may tolerate without consequences (i.e. cancer or different kinds of chronic deseases).
For example, when you are in the aircraft, you are subject to increased levels of ionizing radiation at the altitude of 11-12 kilometers. Radiation at this altitude is 20-30 times higher than normal level for human beings. It is not so detrimental for passengers who do not fly often, but might affect pilots and flight attendants, who regularly spend their time in the air. In the course of a year their bodies might be susceptible to needless radiation, which may cause diseases of sorts. There are radiation dose limits, which pilots and air stewards should not exceed. There are around 10 million pilots and flight attendants in the world, and all of them need a personal device which would measure individual radiation exposure.
Another category of professionals who are subject to high levels of radiation are nuclear power plant (NPP) employees, radiologists, etc.
People who live near the nuclear power plants (there are about 460 NPPs around the world) might want to know about radiation level in their neighbourhood as well.
Surprisingly, high levels of radiation are found in seafood. For example, at Fukushima NPP nuclear waste was drained into the Pacific Ocean. After that many reports appeared saying that radionuclides from Fukushima were found in fish at long distances from the plant, some 100-200 km. Area along Fukushima coast is a commercial fishing area, so once a customer buys seafood in a shop, it’s worth checking its radiation level.
There are a lot of other sources of high intense radiation that we don’t know and can’t even imagine.
DO-RA application for iPhone not only measures the radiation, but also saves the history, shows which parts of human body are most sensitive to current radiation level. Also, it saves data on the server and creates a geo-map of radiation levels using data from all DO-RA users. The photos in the article show DO-RA application for iPhone, but DO-RA software may be used with any kind of operating system.
What makes DO-RA stand out from competitors
In the US market the closest analogues of DO-RA dosimeter have been made by companies Lapka and SCOSCHE. Lapka set a price tag of 119 euros for their Geiger-Muller radiation counter with a premium design. SCOSCHE model is not particularly convenient for everyday use as its size is comparable to a fairly large computer mouse, and it connects to a smart-phone via a USB-port using half-a-metre long cable.
In 2011 Japan’s biggest mobile carrier NTT Docomo unveiled a special smartphone case with a built-in radiation sensor, which essentially turned your smartphone into dosimeter. But the case was big and not useful. A year later Sharp developed an Android smartphone Pantone 5 with built-in radiation dosimeter but it had a great measurement error.
The DO-RA device is much more compact than that of competitors, and offers a great functionality range. The DO-RA prototype has already been adapted to work with major mobile operating systems such as iOS, Android, WP, BalckBerry, and Windows/Linux/MacOS. Current version of DO-RA dosimeter, based on semiconductor technology, is much more precise than Geiger-Muller tube technology used in other devices.
DO-RA.Ultra-Blue, a dosimeter which will work with any kind of devices, such as a smartphone, laptop or PC station through Bluetooth 4.0, is estimated to be priced at $70-$80 once it hits the market.
An approximate price for DO-RA.Module for Ara smartphone is expected to be about $50, which is much cheaper than similar devices.