New Japanese smartphone checks for radioactivity

by Dale Wright

So your smartphone can help you to communicate, tell the time and help you navigate. It might also be able to act as a compass, a thermometer, a Tesco Clubcard and a barcode reader. It helps you find your friends, send last-minute birthday presents and do your shopping wherever you are. Pretty soon it’ll be able to make contactless payments straight from your bank account, so you won’t need to carry cash when you pop out for a pint of milk.

With all these smartphone innovations already out there, what else could possibly be in the pipeline for the smartphone?

Next month, at a trade show in Tokyo, Japanese mobile operator DoCoMo will showcase a new concept in smartphone technology. It’s a special phone case equipped with sensors that will record and transmit data about the world around you back to your phone for analysis. Three different cases will be available, each with its own special function. Not only will these cases pick up radiation and UV light, they’ll also be able to tell you if you’re too drunk, too flabby or your breath smells. Charming!

DoCoMo say they have developed the new mobile phone cases with a serious intent. The Fukushima nuclear disaster has made many Japanese people very reluctant to eat Japanese produce, and many residents are now living day to day in an area which is contaminated with radioactivity. The reactors are still malfunctioning and have not been shut down as yet. Smartphone sensors could help the people of Japan easily detect radioactive hotspots in their area, or help them make better choices when buying fruit and veg.

Instead of Japanese people carrying other devices which measure radioactivity, DoCoMo decided to see if they could incorporate Geiger counter technology into the phones they use and carry every day. Some people say that DoCoMo are simply cashing in on a disaster, but the technology might pave the way for even more ways our mobile phones can monitor our surroundings – perhaps even checking our health and wellbeing, recommending vitamin supplements or monitoring our bodily functions every second of the day.

What do you wish your smartphone could do?