1st April 2009
The ongoing war on terror shows no sign of ending, although the pioneering work of Radination, a company with offices in Europe and North America may finally help to turn the tide.
In one of our occasional interviews with industry leaders, Mobile Gazette visited Radination's offices and spoke to CEO Bill Röntgen.
MG: Thank you for seeing us Mr Röntgen..
Röntgen: Call me Bill.
MG: ..Bill. I guess our first question is this - what exactly is Radination all about?
Radination is a peer-to-peer radiological monitoring system. We
leverage distributed handheld systems to ensure a resilient and highly
effective network that can provide a valuable service to governmental
and non-governmental bodies.
MG: So what exactly does that mean?
We aim to put a radiation detector into every mobile phone to monitor
for radiological environmental parameter excursion events.
MG: Excursion events?
Röntgen: To use the parlance of the man-in-the-street.. "nukes going off". A terrorist attack, for example.
MG: So.. these are Geiger counters then?
Röntgen: Not exactly. These are ultra-compact semiconductor sensors that weight just a few grams.
MG: They sound ideal for use in a mobile phone.
Precisely. In the same way that mobile phones have incorporated GPS,
Bluetooth and wi-fi over recent years, we see the inclusion of a
radiation detector as being something that would not add much in terms
of size, weight or cost.
MG: So, would we be correct in
saying that your product will help to prevent terrorists by detecting a
nuclear bomb by tracking it and alerting the authorities?
Röntgen: We did look at that, but there were too many problems
with Data Protection and the Human Rights Act. It turns out that if we
were to monitor people without their consent, then we would be breaking
the law. Instead, what we do is wait until after the event..
MG: ..the nuke going off..?
Röntgen: ..indeed. We wait until it goes off and then we send an alert.
MG: An alert?
Röntgen: Yes, firstly to tell people in the immediate area that there has been a nuclear attack.
MG: What like a text message?
Röntgen: Yes. Although as it is possible that the cellular network infrastructure may have been degraded..
MG: By a nuclear explosion in the near vicinity?
Röntgen: Yes.. because of that, we use a peer-to-peer broadcast
system. Radination-equipped phones will pass the message on through
Bluetooth or wi-fi to other phones, and they will pass it in turn down
MG: Do you think that there is a real possibility that people
won't notice that a bomb has gone off? You know.. a mushroom cloud,
everything blowing up.. that sort of thing?
Röntgen: You would be surprised how unobservant people can be.
But it doesn't stop there, eventually the peer-to-peer network will
alert those in authority. Otherwise the attack might go undetected by
those in charge.
MG: Who does it alert exactly?
Röntgen: Well in the case of the UK, it would be Prime Minister Tony Blair.
MG: Errr Tony Blair? He isn't Prime Minister any more.
Röntgen: Well, we have been working on it for some time. The
values are hard-coded into the system. The next UK version will alert
MG: David Cameron? What about Gordon Brown?
Röntgen: I don't think there's much point bothering, do you?
Incidentally, we are also upgrading the US version. At the moment it
sends an alert to Sarah Palin. We mis-judged the whole election thing a
MG: I'd say. Anyway, when do you think that this product will be ready?
Röntgen: There is still quite a lot of work to do, but our
anticipated launch date is the first of April 2010. You can check our
website for more details.
MG: Thank you. Bill, one final question - presumably you are related to the famous nuclear physicist Wilhelm Röntgen?
Röntgen: Sorry, never heard of him.
MG: Oh well, thank you for you time.