Intersoft Eurasia makes Do-Ra, a smartphone radiation detector

CES 2016: Games, internet, and Geiger counters go hand in hand

Do-Ra logoIf you need a radiation detector/dosimeter for your phone, Intersoft Eurasia’s DoRa is for you. These little boxes plug into your phone’s mic port and count your radiation intake for you. SemiAccurate wants one.

The idea is simple, put either a traditional Geiger-Muller counter or Intersoft’s own internally developed silicon sensor called DoRaSi on a card, load the right app on your phone, and off you go. It comes in four versions at the moment, Do-Ra.Q, i.Do-Ra, Do-Ra.Uni, and Do-Ra.Ultra, each with different form factors, sensors, and host OS support. A sampling of the devices, boards, and sensors is below.

Do-Ra radiation detector/dosimeter lineup

Some of the Do-Ra lineup and boards

On the top right we have a prototype for the Ultra, the release device will be much slicker and have a built-in screen. This one uses the silicon based DoRaSi sensor and board on the bottom row, specifically the sensor on the bottom right, or at least one of the pair of them. This is mounted to the back of the board in the center, the top side is the control and interface electronics. For those with a decent grasp of physics and chemistry, the device will sense Beta and Gamma radiation in the 5keV-10meV range, plus it will interface with Android. When was the last time you could say radiation detector, my phone, and Android in the same breath?

In the middle row we have two shells for the Do-Ra.Q device and a bare board in the middle. As you can probably see from the board, it has a traditional Geiger-Muller tube in the top plus some high voltage components on the PCB. This is in stark contrast to the slim DoRaSi based device below, progress marches on. The Do-Ra.Q will work with iOS directly or OSX through a supplied USB interface.

The i.Do-Ra is the same thing but in a white and gold Apple shaped case instead of a boring box, just the thing for the radiation conscious Apple wielding coffee-house zombie. They can now claim that although their dosimeter cost a few dollars more, it was worth it and it is pretty. Both of these two are not done with testing so no specs on detectable energy levels yet.

Last up is the Uni, a clip on wearable version of the Do-Ra.Q. This really rough prototype shell is on the top left, imagine a Q/i.Do-Ra with a bit more electronics and presumably a battery so it can be used without a phone. This one works with most iOS, OSX, Android, Linux, and even Windows host systems, plus should be the most user-friendly device. It has a range of 60keV-3meV for Gamma and Beta radiation and a cumulative range of 1.5-14.4 µSv/hour.

All three Geiger-Muller sensors have a +/-15% error rate, the DoRaSi is listed as a +/-10% range. Given that the three non-DoRaSi devices all uses the same sensor, they should be very similar when the full characterization is done on the hardware.

Intersoft Eurasia was showing off a lot of other interesting form factors at CES including a traditional Russian doll, some higher fashion items, and a lower but wider variant of the Do-Ra.Q. The one that made SemiAccurate sit up and take notice was a child’s doll with a dosimeter in it. Think about how this would fly off the shelves in certain parts of the world, not just the Ukraine or northern Japan, but anything downwind of those places or within a few hundred miles of a nuclear plant. A kid’s toy that they would want to carry around plus peace of mind, or paranoia if it goes off, for the parents at the same time. Genius.

The last board on the lower left is the most interesting one, it is the second generation DoRaSi detector and as you can see, it is much smaller barely over 1x1cm. This tiny device is not fully finished but should be in the not so distant future and is aimed at all sorts of interesting devices. Why? Because it is small enough to be built into a phone, jewelry, watches, or cases. It is tiny, weighs nothing, and is really useful for paranoid, with good reason or not, people. If you can buy a phone with a radiation detector/dosimeter in it for tens of dollars more, wouldn’t you? Even if it was just for fun the payback on it would be there for most geeks. Imagine the bar bets that would come out of a Do-Ra in your phone!

That brings us to the last part, price. The cheapest of these is obviously the Do-Ra.Q with it’s square box and simple interface. How much is it? Intersoft Eurasia claims it will only cost $49.99 MSRP when it is launched in a few months, a tiny fraction of what a full on Geiger counter costs. For the price of one traditional unit you can outfit the entire clan in your survivalist compound with their own radiation detector! The other two Gieger-Muller based devices will probably cost a little more, basically the case and added component costs.

There was no price given for the silicon detector based devices but we would guess that the DoRaSi sensor itself is cheaper to make than the large bulky electronics in the older sensors. While it is unlikely to bring the entire device cost down by a significant amount, it will save a bit. Then again the added screen and electronics on the Do-Ra.Ultra will add that back and more, but you get the idea.

When the second gen sensor is in mass production prices should drop radically, especially if it uses a phone as a host for I/O and battery, it will be downright cheap. The first two variants of the Do-Ra sensors are a great idea at a good price, the second one is a killer idea that we hope takes off. While I have no reason to need one but for $50 I want one and will probably buy one just to have around the lab. What a great idea.S|A

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Charlie Demerjian

Roving engine of chaos and snide remarks at SemiAccurate
Charlie Demerjian is the founder of Stone Arch Networking Services and SemiAccurate.com. SemiAccurate.com is a technology news site; addressing hardware design, software selection, customization, securing and maintenance, with over one million views per month. He is a technologist and analyst specializing in semiconductors, system and network architecture. As head writer of SemiAccurate.com, he regularly advises writers, analysts, and industry executives on technical matters and long lead industry trends. Charlie is also a council member with Gerson Lehman Group. FullyAccurate