Call us skeptical, but new app, Geiger Camera, purports to detect area radiation using only an iPhone camera (though we suppose an iPad 2 camera could work as well). While the App Store description mentions alerting users to a nuclear accident, we can see this being MORE useful when used as a way to monitor the radiation around us.
The press release email says that the app will allow users to:
- Assess the environmental radioactivity.
- Monitor the radiation level in your area, your home and your workplace.
- To control small objects of the everyday life likely to be radioactive (watches, metals).
- To detect the presence of radioactive sources or levels of contamination important in the environment. - To consider the radioactivity ambient.
It goes on to explain that the calibration tests were experienced in partnership with the Institut Laue Langevin, an internationally-funded scientific facility in France, and that the iPhone camera must be obscured in some way, such as placing it face down on a table or taping opaque paper over the camera lens. There's even a video of the app in action.
Still unconvinced, we emailed the developer, Salim Mimouni, PhD, who said that the
"iPhone camera can 'see' infrared, some of the UV light, because it is semiconductor based sensor. For example, point any tv remote toward iPhone camera, you'll see light you can't see with your eyes. In fact sensitivity in IR and UV is low, but not zero, and still lower for soft X and hard X rays. But these photons are so energetic that although the low probability of being detected, they cause an image disturbance that can be distinguished from dark background. This is why we need to obscure the iphone camera. This is our specific technique."
Mimouni also mentioned that the app was reviewed and placed in the Utility category rather than the Entertainment one, emphasizing that this is not a toy, but an actual useful tool for radiation detection. Of course, the email he originally sent also says, "This app is intended for the use of the private individuals as a tool for pre-detection and is not be recommended for professional uses." So, your mileage may vary.
Geiger Camera is available in the App Store now for $.99, and as long as you aren't relying on it as the end-all, be-all of radiation detection, you might want to give it a looksee.