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Firm makes iPhone Geiger counter for worried Japanese

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© 2011 AFP

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Well, OK I guess.

For the price, I would trust this as much as a 9,800 yen air tester before working underground. You get what you pay for.

2 ( +5 / -2 )

Exactly Okinawamike. Geiger counters were featured on some news story the other night. And most of them gave different readings to each other. Most of the retail versions can`t be trusted at all.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

What a great scam... playing on people's paranoia

3 ( +9 / -5 )

It's fixed. It won't detect anything, making people think there's no radiation. You need to have access to a lab with the proper equipment in order to test your Geiger dosimeters and counters.

-13 ( +3 / -14 )

What a load of rubbish. Gotta hand it to the inventor though - great entrepreneurial skills. The only question remains now how many people are gullible enough to buy it.

-8 ( +4 / -10 )

Ridiculous. Just someone trying to cash in on public fear. It's impossible that this could work well, and since it won't be calibrated it will be worse than useless.

-5 ( +5 / -9 )

So this counter will report low readings to make people feel that they're safe, Could you really imagine an announcement of a product that might make Japanese people feel less safe than they think they are.

-12 ( +3 / -15 )

Wanted to make a cheap and easy to use Geiger counter?.. more like...."he saw dollar signs and wanted to cash in".... maybe more like... he saw yen and wanted to cash in

-4 ( +4 / -7 )

These were available on yahoo auctions japan at least a month ago. And Soldave is right.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

I got the Pocket Geiger Counter Kit for iPhone a few months ago. It was third the price of this one. Very difficult to operate even for me, and I used to calibrate dosimeters for a living for years. However, it is calibrated, very thoroughly tech documented and it consistently gives values corresponding to ones released by Safeguard and other individuals. Couldn't possibly recommend it to anybody having less than B.Sc or extensive experience on measuring techniques. But it's small, cheap, gives the correct magnitude and can warn against hot spots.

My point being, measuring radioactivity is a matter of well-known technology that is accessible to everybody. It is not magic and in no way it has to be expensive.

And... sometimes low readings means that radioactivity is actually low. DuH! There are plenty of radioactive material freely available for calibration purposes. Please do not start a rant asking "then where are all the nuclear terrorists?" if you didn't bother to study even the bare basics about radioactive materials.

7 ( +11 / -4 )

There are now a few of these types of gadgets that work through aps like Geiger Bot. There is no reason to think this one doesn't work, and I won't bother to develop a negative attitude before I have any data.

I have an old Russian geiger counter, and I wouldn't trust it to give me a numerically accurate reading, but if there is radiation, the reading will be higher than it is without radiation, and the readings are reasonably consistent. This means that it works if your goal is to detect higher than normal radiation, but not if you want to know for sure that the level is beyond a certain limit. If I start hearing that these new geigers are as accurate as the expensive meters, I'll buy on.

3 ( +8 / -5 )

I have the Inspector and it works fine. Lots of hot spots in Setagaya ward. 2.22 is nothing to frown upon. I want to see the gadget this guy has invented.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Hey... if it works it is probably worth it. I'll read the reviews on it before I think of buying one but considering how much other Geiger counters cost Y9,800 is a good buy. And since I for one belive very little of what the govt and Tepco tell me... I may just get one.

2 ( +4 / -3 )

How is it that just about anything anyone has to say on this topic has a negative rating?

4 ( +8 / -5 )

@JapanGal, good luck out there. How bad is it in some of the spots? I'm about as far away as one can get: New Hampshire on the Eastern sea board of the USA.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

I geigie is another one I heard about: http://igeigie.com/2011/05/igeigie-two/

1 ( +4 / -3 )

2.22μSv has been the highest I found so far seichiprey

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

If anyone bothered to look into the mechanics behind a geiger counter they would realise that not only is it possible to make a fairly accurate counter at this price (albeit only for gamma radiation, which includes Cesium/Radium), but that it would be quite possible to have this calibrated before being shipped. Geiger-muller tubes are not that expensive, and that is 99% of what this gadget needs.

My german geiger counter came with a certificate of calibration, yet measures similar readings to the tiny chinese unit i have. Perhaps the higher readings on the chinese unit might not be accurate, but at that point its not about exactly what number you get, just that there is radiation there.

If you are really interested in accuracy, you would accept nothing less than a scintillator counter, lab certified.

1 ( +6 / -4 )

I see no sign that this is either a scam or bogus. I don't particularly want one, however, and there are plenty of better qualified people with better equipment already checking food and environment pretty thoroughly, no matter what the paranoid say.

5 ( +10 / -4 )

i dont think this junk will work at all

-13 ( +2 / -14 )

not calibrated = USELESS!

-5 ( +3 / -7 )

As much as this has good intentions, I wouldn't trust my life to an app... I purchased a real hardware version months ago.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

The real ones are no fun. I'd rather get a "novelty type" remote controlled geiger counter and scare my friends with a lethal dose.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

I have watched the documentary of this company trying to make this iPhone Geiger counter. They were making tremendous effort to get the price as low as possible so that people in Fukushima can afford it. One woman from Fukushima said, "Since people in Tokyo started buying those Geiger counters, the price jumped and I cannot afford it. It would be great if someone could make it lower price." Those of you here who say this is rubbish, please tell us specifically what are the problems of this iPhone Geiger counter. Thank you.

7 ( +10 / -4 )

Agree with above poster.

I also saw the documentary and they showed how it was tested/calibrated at a certified lab and how it performed vs other counters.

Was interesting to see the problems they faced getting parts made and keeping it below 10.000Yen.

2 ( +3 / -3 )

Ricky, your comment shows how little you know about radiation detection.

A geiger-muller tube emits an electrical discharge when it detects radiation. A geiger counter is simply a bit of electronics that counts the number of 'ticks' over a specified time period. A GM tube should typically sell for about $15-20 in wholesale, the rest of the electronics (the counter part) is done by your iphone.

CactusJack, where does it say it isnt calibrated? Its only the GM tube that needs calibrating, which isnt hard to do. Sit it next to a reference unit, compare the number of ticks it registers compared to the real deal, and plug that number into the software that shows the final dose rate.

Sounds like people are getting upset that their expensive geiger counters have been undercut. Does anyone know how much geiger counters were selling for BEFORE 3/11? I'll give you a clue: cheaper than this unit!

6 ( +7 / -4 )

As I always sad I am sick of how the half world rushes to make fatty business out of this disaster. Another phony scam.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

I agree with orignalusername. By having the electronics of counting the hits and doing the associated rate/dose calculations offloaded to a piece of hardware many already have, you can bring down the price. At JPY10,000 for just a Geiger-Muller tube this is a reasonable price. I paid close to JPY40,000 for my German-made self-contained/ stand-alone detector. And as for accuracy, I have checked my counter on four airplane flights and have measured up to about 3mSv - a reasonable measure against published literature for the altitude. Also, at ground level around Tokyo area my unit's measures (around 0.1uSv typ.) are within about a factor of two from the values published by the government-based measuring stations in the area. Bottom line: this product by no means is necessarily a piece of junk/scam basing it on its price alone. If it is even of the right order of magnitude in its accuracy, then this is a great product to have on the market.

1 ( +3 / -4 )

I'd imagine this works just as well as the Power Balance bracelets, which are quite popular in Japan. I dare say this placebo gadget will draw a similar popularity.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

Did some employees of the manufacturer just log in and thumbs down everyone who says negative things about this product? It's weird how so many posts went from +2 or +3 to -4 or -5 in a few minutes.

-7 ( +3 / -9 )

Even if I got an alart from this device, isn't it difficult to escape from the radiation? I should hide in a building? If there were no building I can hide in, what should I do?

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Wow!! Less than ichi man en?? What a bargain!!

-7 ( +0 / -7 )

Ignore the thumbs-o-meters. Useless info. Now, about this iGeiger...

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Can someone tell me whether these things, any geiger counter I mean, works on food? And what a safe reading would be?

I agree with some of the comments above: if you find a higher rate of radiation somewhere, what can you really do? But with food it's different: if you go to the supermarket and find that a pumpkin is emitting this beautiful green light and you pull out your geiger counter and find that it's a little nuclear power plant, you just don't buy it.

About the negativity in some comments above: I find it amazing every time I read this forum how cynical some people are here. There is for sure a lot that can be improved in this country and it is driving me nuts as well, but if you hate it THAT much, why are you still here? And if you are not here, why don't you try and make things better wherever you are? Nothing wrong with constructive criticism!

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Just a heads up to the westerners posting here. Not everyone in Japan is like you, looking to scam their fellow man for a few bucks.

The technology to build a Geiger counter amount to under $100, and this guy has genuine concern for the people around him the wake of this disaster.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Rhino, watch this youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Silk2g8fS8Y

Basically, not on anyone's budget here. Scintillator counters are usually over $1000

The reason is that while Geiger tubes detect radiation, they dont detect all of it, less than 1% actually. But they do that consistently; so while the normal background radiation in Tokyo might be 1200 particles of radiation per minute (when using a scintillation counter), the geiger tube will only sense 12. But it will consistently read 12, so in a sense, it is accurate.

Food is measured in Bequerels, which is 'disintegrations per second'. In any direction. So 500bq (safety limit for food), means 500 bits of radiation are going out in any direction. Given the geiger counter window only makes up a fraction of the area that these radiation bits could go, and the fact it will only sense less than 1% of those bits of radiation it can see, its safe to say that a home geiger counter will not sense radiation in food, unless it is at VERY high levels

More info: http://www.albert-cordova.com/Cdv700/geiger-counters.htm

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Food is tough to test, but can be done if you set up your counter in a long time mode. But there are other ways to test for food but not the food itself. Use your geiger counter close but not touching the cardboard boxes the food was shipped in. There is usually dirt in the bottom, and that can be checked too. Most of the boxes can be found out back or some place close to the food store.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

This is what I understand how to check your food in Kashiwa where I live.

A do-it-yourself radiation measuring station will open in Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture.The privately run station opens Tuesday and will enable consumers to measure the amount of radioactive substances that may be in food and other products they have bought or grown.The facility is equipped with eight radiation measuring instruments. Consumers pay to use the self-service devices for 20 minutes to check for radioactive material.Checking food takes between 15 minutes and 20 minutes.(Yomiuri Shimbun Oct. 8, 2011)

I watched the news about this facility the other day. People need to bring food DICED, place them in the container, and wait for 15-20 minutes. I heard this is the way how to measure radiation accurately.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Takes way longer for some truly accurate measures.

Try checking rice, takes a 5kg sample and 24-28 of preparation and a proper lab and equipment(neither cheap).

So anyone thinking that their little bought geiger-counter will do anything, get informed as to what it truly takes. Unless of course you are willing to check each item for 10-20 minutes holding your counter dead-still and blocking an aisle at the local super.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The newest necessary gadget for living in a post-Fukushima Japan.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Hey originalusername,

great video, thanks. Saved me a lot of money.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

**Walking around with a geiger counter? Some people really need a new hobby and maybe a life. Try photogrophy.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Get false reading, panic ensues.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Actually, originalusername and others, Bequerels vs microsieverts isn't a question of whether you're measuring food or other radiation. Bequerels are a measure of disintegrations per second (as you said). The number of Bq tells you the strength of a source of radiation. Microsieverts are a measure of radiation's effect on the human body. This number is used to show relative danger of radiation, but since radiation danger varies with the type of radiation being emitted, and on what part of your body is getting hit, it's not a simple process to convert Bq to uSv. But it is possible.

The main reason why a Geiger counter isn't so useful to detect radiation in food is because a Geiger counter is set to detect background radiation of an area, and isn't sensitive enough to detect the "low levels" of radiation in food that's considered bad. Ie. if it says 2.22uSv/hr that's what it means - if you stand right there for an hour you'll get that much radiation.

But with food it's a lot different. 2,000 Bq of radiation in a steak may not be nice to eat - because if you eat it some of the radiation particles in the meat will get absorbed by your body, become a part of your muscles and will then continually damage you from the insides. So it's really bad. But if you're just holding the steak in your hand, the amount of radiation you get from it is so low that it won't show up on the Geiger counter at all. Now, if you took a clump of dirt from right by the power plant that had 22,000,000 Bq of cesium in it, that's enough that I'm sure the Geiger counter would detect it. It'd be bad, but even still the radiation it's emitting would be a hell of a lot worse if rather than holding it you ate some of it, or breathed it in.

The detectors they use to measure food are good enough to measure these faint levels, and cost tons.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

If this works, please, make one for Android phones... For microUSB ports. If not, I imagine man with iphone somewhere in the deep of the forbidden zone smiling and thinking he is safe while thousands of millisiverts already making the paths through his body...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Wow...does anyone have a list of all the things that a IPhone can do? Seems like its a gift that keeps on giving. But its funny because I don't recall ever seeing anyone using it make calls.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

For things like cameras and flashlights, just about anybody can make apps for smartphones. But when you're thinking about adding a scientific peripheral to the smartphone, then the number one question on everybody's mind will be how well the peripheral has been calibrated. An improperly calibrated geiger counter could show an increase of a few millisieverts when the actual change was much higher. This peripheral better come with scientifically sound calibration procedures.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The accuracy of these devices would be questionable.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Blackbagger, we are saying the same thing, but thanks for clearing it up. I was assuming that the people who are testing food with their geiger counters are using it in CPM mode (counts per minute), which is closer to the 'disintegrations per second' reading that makes up a Becquerel.

But at the end of the day, the message is the same: If a geiger counter picks up a bit of food as being radioactive, then it probably has something in the order of 5000Bq/kg or more.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I'm going to get me one of these and take a run around the perimeter of some of the bases here and see if the rumors are true!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Good. Even if the reading is not accurate, as some negative comments, at least we have an idea how high radioactive around. It's just the same as some digital B/P equipments not accurate but we have an idea of sort. Hehehehe

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Wow...does anyone have a list of all the things that a IPhone can do? Seems like its a gift that keeps on giving. But its funny because I don't recall ever seeing anyone using it make calls.

@ Vernie Jeffries - best comment on here! I also have never seen people use these gadgets as a phone! Maybe they don't even have a phone function?!? Let's just start calling them iLife - or even iDontHaveaLife! LOL Keep uploading these apps people - Steve is laughing all the way to the bank from his grave!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I have a 99 cent geiger counter that just makes noise. It's pretty good for 99 cents.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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