WikiSensor app turns an iPhone into a peripheral-free radiation detector


October 26, 2011

The WikiSense app and some black tape turns an iPhone 4 into a radiation detector

The WikiSense app and some black tape turns an iPhone 4 into a radiation detector

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Earlier this month, we reported on the Scosche RDTX-Pro that connects via a dock connector to turn an iPhone or iPod touch into a radiation detector. That device is set to go on sale in Japan from next month but if you're not in Japan or just don't want to shell out extra cash on any peripheral hardware, then the WikiSensor app might be worth a look - it won't be as accurate, but the only extra bit of kit you'll need is some opaque black tape.

To convert your iPhone into a radiation detector all you need to do is install the WikiSense app and stick some opaque black tape - electrician's tape should do the trick - over the iPhone's front-facing camera. Since the CMOS sensors used in smartphone cameras like the iPhone's don't just pick up visible light but also high frequency waves from radioactive sources, such as gamma and X-rays, covering the lens means only those waves make it through to the sensor. Once activated, the application then counts the number of impacts the sensor receives and translates that into a value in microsieverts per hour.

The makers of the app admit it won't give a precise reading, but rather an approximate one that should be validated by more professional tools if a reading above five microsieverts per hour is detected.

The team behind the app plans to develop a tool that uses data gathered from various users to generate a map showing radiation levels in different locations - hence the wiki prefix. With the ultimate vision of developing a platform that uses a network of devices - particularly smartphones - as a sensor network to measure various aspects of environmental quality, the company also has plans to develop apps to measure Wi-Fi waves, relay antenna waves, magnetic fields, earthquakes, greenhouse gases, UVA/UVB light, oxygen and temperature.

The WikiSensor app has only been calibrated for use with the iPhone 4 and is available now for US$0.99 from the iTunes App Store.

Source: Red Ferret

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick

Surely it\'s $0.99 and not $99?

corrections Lourie Höll

Better buy a Polimaster PM1208M Gamma detector watch.

I have used it at the Dentist (!), through customs and when flying. "Great" to see the micro-sievert levels change as you do these things....

It maxed at 3.33mS on my last flight from zurich to London by the way....


oops! thanks Lourie. It should have read $0.99. This (embarrassing) mistake has been corrected.


it is looking very cool and useful features.


\"Polimaster PM1208M - $1200.00 USD , down to $990 , but still kinda pricey!!

and yes it does have calendar functions, with alarm


Downside of the app is that it doesn't (can't) detect alpha radiation. Alpha radiation can be stopped with a piece of thin paper, but can cause damage when ingested. According to my contacts in Japan, they are very focused on measuring alpha particles and this requires an expensive, hard-to-find (now) Geiger tube with a special thin mica window that allows alpha particles to pass and be detected. This app leverages known semiconductor aspects of the camera sensor and is very good work, you're blind to a considerable amount of detection.

The watch is cool, but suffers from the same dynamic - no alpha detection - likely limited or no beta particle detection too. Radiation measurement is a very serious business with potentially very serious consequences. I personally rely on the PRM-8000 Geiger counter ($495) from Mazur Instruments. It accurately measures alpha, beta and gamma and detects xrays as well. I fly with it in my brief case and it records in its internal memory measurements every minute (up to 90K minutes) that can be loaded into Excel for later analysis. My 2-cents.


first it reads O2 saturation in the blood, now it\'s a geiger counter? there\'s nothing this thing won\'t do! with the right app, x-ray specs once advertised in the backs of comics will be real. everybody get your lead underwear.


okay... don\'t see it in the US store. online says it\'s in the France store.

Michael Taylor

What\'s the difference between radiation measurements in Seiverts and Roentgens?

Gregg Eshelman
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