The use of smartphone extension hardware is not a new idea, the device plugs into the headphone jack or the USB interface on your phone and extends the phone’s use by feeding data it is designed to gather back to an app. I don’t think, however, that I have ever seen something like DO-RA, it’s a personal dosimeter-radiometer for measuring background radiation.
The market for this may not be for everybody, however, there are specific regions that have suffered major nuclear incidents, like Fukushima or Chernobyl, or for people who work in the nuclear industry. DO-RA’s creators says Japan is going to be a key target market when they go into production, with other target markets being the U.S.A and Europe. The firm behind this device, Intersoft Eurasia, says it will initially be able to ship 1 million DO-RA devices per year into these three markets. The device is due to go into commercial production very soon, this autumn, in fact. The Russian startup company behind DO-RA, claims to have interested parties, wanting orders, totalling 1,300 over the last few months, without doing any advertising campaigns (note, the majority of pre-orders are male iPhone and iPad owners).
The DO-RA device will retail for approximately $150. DO-RA, which, if you hadn’t guessed yet, is short for dosimeter-radiometer, was conceived by its Russian creator, Vladimir Elin, after reading articles on the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, and stumbling across the idea of a portable dosimeter. More research followed, the patents were filed and an international patent was granted on the DO-RA concept in Ukraine, in November 2012.
Intersoft has made several prototypes since 2011, and produced multiple simulation apps, but is only now gearing up to get the hardware product into market. The universal design version of the gadget will plug into the audio jack on a smartphone, tablet or laptop and when used in conjunction with the DO-RA app, using a silicon-based ionizing radiation sensor, will be able to record radiation measurements. This will build up a picture of radiation exposure for an individual or a particular location.
The system can continuously monitor background radiation levels, when the app is used in radiometer mode, taking measurements every four seconds. There’s also a dosimeter mode, where the app measures “an equivalent exposure over the monitoring period” and then forecasts annual exposure based on that data snapshot. In addition to the basic universal plug-in, they have created an apple-shaped version, called Yablo-Chups, presumably aimed at appealing to the Japanese market, judging by the kawaii design.
They are also looking into a smartwatch, producing a concept design for an electromagnetic field monitoring watch that warns its owner of “unhealthy frequencies.” All these plans are certainly ambitious, so what about funding? Elin founded Intersoft Eurasia in 2011 and has managed to raise around $500,000 to-date, including a $35,000 grant from Russia’s Skolkovo Foundation, which backs R&D technology projects supporting the Russia’s Tech City/Startup hub.
In September 2013 Intersoft says it’s expecting to get a more substantial grant from the Foundation, up to $ 1 million, to supplement its funding as it begins commercial production of DO-RA. Also it has, apparently, private investors willing to invest a further $250,000. However, they are still wanting additional funds as future additional investment is likely required to achieve what Intersoft describes as its “main goal”: producing a microchip with an embedded radiation sensor, something which Intersoft Eurasia is really striving to achieve.