An exhibition of new devices created within the framework of Belarusian iron startups – Party Hard! 2016. We decided to tell you about one of the most interesting exhibits at this exhibition – a smart dosimeter ZIVE, which synchronizes with your smartphone and collects data for a global map of radiation pollution.
"We’re an environmental monitoring startup, " says Vadim Radziwill, founder of R-NOX. He’s a techie, and with a group of enthusiasts created a state-of-the-art, technologically advanced dosimeter.
Why do you need such a device?
"I used to work at the company with these square instruments, and I got bored of using them, " Vadim says of the Soviet-style industrial meters. – We used to call them nutcrackers – uncomfortable to operate and everything in general."
Few people have dosimeters, but that does not mean the device is irrelevant: After the Chernobyl accident in 1986, Belarus took the lead in the number of territories contaminated by radiation. According to the Atlas of the consequences of the Chernobyl accident, only Ukraine and Russia have territories comparable in level of contamination.
Not surprisingly, it was in Belarus that the idea of a new generation radiation monitor, which combined the convenience of the latest mobile devices with the accuracy of professional-level measurements, appeared.
The new meter was named ZIVE, the Czech word for "alive".
The device is designed based on a Geiger-Mueller counter (Beta-1M-1). The principle of its operation is closely related to the idea of the Internet of Things: it interacts with the environment, monitoring radiation levels in the background, and sends measurement results to a smartphone, and if the Internet is available, the data goes to a server, where a global map of radiation pollution is formed.
Thanks to ZIVE you can constantly monitor the radiation background: at home, on a walk, when choosing food. The mobile application will calculate the dose of radiation received for a particular user and warn him/her in case of danger. It will also provide a more accurate answer to the question: are there any problems with radiation within the individual regions? The quality of maps for the CIS countries may be questioned, as they were made on the basis of 1986 calculations, not real measurements.
How is a map of radioactive areas generated?
According to the idea of the dosimeter developers, ZIVE users will become participants of the global ecological project and will create new accurate maps of radioactive contamination themselves. This will happen thanks to the connection of the dosimeter-smartphone-server.
The dosimeter itself only records the radiation background. Then it communicates with a smartphone via bluetooth. The data is downloaded to the mobile application, its volume is counted in kilobytes.
Then the measurement results are transmitted over the Internet to the server. Priority is given to wi-fi networks so as not to scare off users of the device with the prospect of losing all mobile traffic. Although the data take less than some applications consume – adds Vadim.
You can also use the device without a phone. So far, it only works with Android smartphones version 4.2. Bluetooth and GPS are required.
On the server, big data from ZIVE dosimeters is stored in a virtual cloud database; for each measurement, information about the radiation background, coordinates, altitude, and speed of the object is recorded.
"This is to know where the data is coming from, " explains Vadim. At the altitude of the plane, the radiation is higher. The higher the speed of the object, the greater the error. If there are peak values in the data array, the system will check their validity, taking into account all the listed information.
Only then will the data get on the map. On one layer you will be able to see the actual measurement points, and on the second layer – the familiar heat map of radiation pollution.
Dosimeter as an alternative source of information
"This big data is of enormous value, " says Vadim. – In fact, our goal is not to create ZIVE devices, but to collect data."
The data will form a map, so the more users in a particular area, the more reliable and complete the map. Members of the R-NOX team collect information in Germany and England – these countries will be the first to receive the instruments. We also collect measurements in Mexico, USA, Ukraine and Belarus.
The guys from R-NOX visited the most contaminated areas in Belarus, Ukraine and Russia. What did they learn from these visits, other than radiation doses? Many things surprised them: according to Vadim, it is a typical situation, when the land is considered clean, people plow and plant on it… But across the road is a forest, the entrance to which is forbidden.
And even if we assume that a field of 4-5 meters is indeed completely clean, there remains such a factor as the transport of particles with surface water, dust, or animals.
In such a situation the initiative of R-NOX is very relevant: to determine whether there is a problem with radiation in the country. After all, for example, during summer fires in the area near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, officials claimed that the background was normal and there was no danger. And no alternative sources of information were found in the mass media, except for hypothetical estimates of Greenpeace specialists.
The device can also be used for flights and X-rays in medical institutions. That is, to record the amount of radiation received per year and not come close to its limit. Although Vadim is skeptical: he is sure that people would rather spend money on a new iPhone than on a dosimeter.
ZIVE is now in the market launch phase. The company has plans to work on the map and develop new devices. Another goal is to add technicians to the team.
UPD To answer the question of why this article appeared on the Promwad blog: we are friends with the R-NOX team. They designed the dosimeter and put it into production themselves. We developed part of the mobile software for them and shared our experience in implementing the ZIVE project. This project was especially interesting for us because developments for the Internet of Things – one of our specialties, the Promwad Mobile division does it.