Did you know: your iPhone's camera can detect radiation and there's an app for that

Did you know: your iPhone's camera can detect radiation and there's an app for that

Apparently, smartphones can do everything. Today, we learned that their high-resolution cameras have the means to detect and assess radiation levels! It's a good thing we don't have to resort to that, but it's still nice to know. How is this possible, anyway? Well, a digital camera is designed on the same principle as the human eye. The retina absorbs light, converts it to a neural impulse, and hands it over to the brain along the optic nerve. Likewise, a camera has its CMOS sensor perceive light, turn it into electricity and send it to a processor that interprets it much like our brains do.

The trick is that light is actually a form of radiation, thankfully not of the same kind that turns turtles into ninjas. Since cameras do their thing by soaking in light, it makes sense that they would respond somehow to radiation, which is essentially polluted light. For example, old-timey cameras have their films fogged due to the excessively powerful light, while digital ones get current spikes. The latter can be analyzed with software based on what scientists call "continuous high-delta algorithm," letting radiation levels be estimated.

Said software isn't something you'll never see outside of specialized laboratories. Quite the contrary, you can actually have it on your iPhone! The Ray Detect app (link) was the first of its kind to implement the algorithm on mobile, taking advantage of Apple's burst shooting and graphics-processing features brought with iOS 7. It analyzes each pixel of the camera sensor individually, as well as information from all the pixels combined to come up with specific values. They are compared against values from a database which reproduces the radiation spectrum. This way, Ray Detect can detect the pollution and produce readings of radiation doses. Pretty cool, huh?

source: Ray Detect

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15 Comments

1. TmoRep

Posts: 107; Member since: Apr 20, 2016

Bug Out bag: Iphone for radiation scans--- Check!

2. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

There are a few Android apps that do this too, they do work best if you put black tape over the camera lens

8. Mxyzptlk unregistered

Good to know clueless rebel.

10. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

Glad to be of service, humorless mxypool

14. talon95

Posts: 984; Member since: Jul 31, 2012

Yeah, thanks, I tried some out. There is one that I liked but it's a low radiation day around here so it was harder to test.

3. natypes

Posts: 1110; Member since: Feb 02, 2015

Another cool little trick that amazes kids is show them that your camera can detect infrared with a TV remote (or any kind). Point the remote at them ask if they can see the light, they will say no, then point it at your cell with the camera on and let them see the screen and they'll see the light. For younger kids, of course.

4. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

Radiation? IDTIMWYTIM :-/ technically radio waves, all visible lights, and other waves is radiation.. and obviously phone camera cant capture ionising radiation from nuclear waste like apha, beta, and gamma... so what kind of radiation it can capture?

9. Sidewinder

Posts: 515; Member since: Jan 15, 2015

Possibly particle radiation like alpha and beta rays

12. DPMRD

Posts: 2; Member since: Apr 28, 2016

Only gamma-radiation and X-rays / electromagnetic radiation, penetrating radiation, travels as waves through matter like light through a window. Alphas and betas are particles and get mostly stopped by the phone and camera body.

5. XDAdam

Posts: 276; Member since: Feb 03, 2016

Fallout 5: iPhone edition.

6. talon95

Posts: 984; Member since: Jul 31, 2012

Cool. I need this for Android. My office wall is against the hot lab. They kicked me out of my spot yesterday for a few minutes while they mixed some source containers.

15. JumpinJackROMFlash

Posts: 464; Member since: Dec 10, 2014

So, have you had any useful mutations yet?

7. TheOracle1

Posts: 2029; Member since: May 04, 2015

Of course only an iPhone can do this because other smartphones don't have cameras. Stupid title.

11. azimesmail

Posts: 264; Member since: Nov 23, 2014

It's funny that something so small seems to bug you enough to take time out of your day to comment against it.

13. DPMRD

Posts: 2; Member since: Apr 28, 2016

the sensor of all digital cameras are virtually sensitive to ionizing radiation. The app, which inspired the article is new, works on iPhone 5s and above and is the only app for a wearable watch (Apple Watch). see raydetect.net/iphone for more details.

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