Forewarned is forearmed
"Invisible killer" — this title was assigned
to the radiation since the moment when
been able to realize the danger that is fraught with an excessive dose of ionizing radiation. The word "radiation" immediately brings to life the terrible images of Fukushima, Chernobyl, Hiroshima and Nagasaki... It seems that these terrible global tragedies – are "long time ago" and "far away", and this would never happen with us. But this is not true – said Vladimir Elin, Head of the DO-RA project, Chairman of JSC "Intersoft Eurasia". Personal dosimeters developmet and manufacture became Mr. Elin's business relatively recently, but he's sure that he found his golden mine.
At first glance, the market of portable dosimeters is a very small segment of the global market of electronic devices and gadgets. Is it really possible to make money here at all? What could you say about the dosimetry market - its volume, current situation analysis, forecasts for the future?
- In fact, the market of portable dosimeters-radiometers for measuring the dose of ionizing radiation (hereinafter - IR) in a modern, technological world is big enough. According to the market research made specially for Intersoft Eurasia in 2013 by Star Systems (Japan Company), dosimeters market is about 10 million units at 25% growth per year for all key markets:. Southeast Asia, South and North America, Europe and the CIS. Moreover, this assessment was made only in view of the fact that in a number of developed economies, a certain place in the energy sector is occupied by Nuclear Power Plants. It has been calculated that since the start of operation activity at the first NPP, more or less serious nuclear accidents happen every 6-8 years! However, this research does not take into account usage of fissionable materials and sources of IR in diagnostic and preventive medicine, likewise using the X-ray for diagnosis in fluorography, stomatology, traumatology. Also, none of the marketers do not take into account such factors as international tension and the strategic potential of the "Nuclear Club" member-states which is greater than the number of existing and under construction nuclear reactors, and especially taking into account the increased activity of terrorist groups who is dreaming about the so-called "dirty bombs". If we will evaluate the market of personal dosimeters-radiometers, taking into account the factors of international tension and potential conflicts, nuclear medicine, it is simply inexhaustible. And in view of minimizing the size of dosimeters-radiometers and its ability to connect with any smartphone for analysis and cloud storage of the data about IR, the market may be equal to the number of manufactured smartphones, which is approximately 1 bln. pcs. per year.
- Why would an ordinary person need dosimeter?
- First of all, every human needs dosimeter for his/her personal radiation safety, continuous monitoring of the environment, food, liquids, household items to avoid use of contaminated by isotopes products which have a detrimental effect on the immune system and genetic fund, including healthy reproductive activity. In fact, the human does not have receptors that are able to feel ionizing radiation, that is why we all need to have so-called "Seventh Sence", which would warn us about radiation danger.
People already have six senses, including the intuition, given by the nature. For our project called "DO-RA" we have registered international brand for household dosimeters-radiometers - "7th Sense".
- Radiation hazard. Where does it occur?
- Every day we can face with radiation hazard, because it’s everywhere! Let me explain you this on the example of Radium. It is the most widespread radioactive element on the Earth with a half-life of its isotopes – 1602 years. This element can cause serious problems, while being a part of the old devices, pictures, fluorescent light, granite and marble, clay, and accordingly, we can find it in a simple tile in the kitchen, bathroom or toilet. It produces ionizing radiation, affecting our body, organs and systems of human activity, accumulating dose of IR in the body and, as a result, causing risks of harmful diseases in various human organs.
All these facts are shown and proved by science radiology, risks for human health are calculated and listed in Russian Federation Safety Standards. The derivative of radium - radon gas may be present in normal drinking water from artesian wells, or in the form of gas during the crustal rift when it getting into the living spaces, and in a systematic exposure causes cancer of the upper respiratory tract.
- How serious is the problem of radioactive contamination in the global world?
- The problem of radioactive contamination is very relevant at NPPs (Nuclear Power Plants), especially in the fields of nuclear accidents like Chernobyl in the Ukraine and its neighboring territories, which are much longer than 30-kilometer zone defined as dangerous area. And we have such places in Japan (Fukushima), as well as in the UK, USA and other countries, where previously took place less scaled, but still catastrophes which caused radioactive contamination of large areas. In this sense, Russia is not an exception, because there are some places where it is not safe to live and work because of the high radioactive background.
- What is unique about your device – dosimeter-radiometer DO-RA?
- Originality of the project lies in the fact that no one in the world has patented this idea up to me, so now I have the patents in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Japan, the United States, China, Korea, India, and European Union. And everything from the design of the solid-state ionizing radiation detector, the technology of its production, circuit engineering, reading electronics, to software programs for the device control - is unique. There are patents for inventions, utility models, and program codes for all major operating systems which are protected by copyright certificates in Federal Institute of Industrial Property (FIIP). Perhaps, we are almost the only ones in the world who has a full set of technologies for manufacturing hosehold compact dosimeters-radiometers, in other words, for the largest dosimetry niche at the global market.
- Are you targeting primarily the domestic or foreign markets?
- Of course, DO-RA project has some prospects on the domestic market of the Customs Union and CIS countries, but it will take no more than 3-5% of the global market needs. The project's maximum opportunities are concentrated in such key world economies as America, Canada, South Africa, Germany, France, Italy, England, Japan, Korea, China, Malaysia, Australia. According to marketers, about 97% of our potential customers: from individuals and companies, to government agencies and relevant customers in the energy and security sectors are based in these countries.
Although, in recent years, after two international nuclear exhibitions: WMS-2016 in Phoenix, United States and WNE-2016 in Paris, France, we noticed a huge interest for our technology both from domestic and foreign partners. Moreover, we receive proposals on the integration of our technology coming even from the manufacturers of refrigerators, air conditioners, medical equipment, cars, etc.
- OK. Household dosimeters are more or less sorted out. And what about dosimeters, if we talk about their industrial use?
- Dosimetry is consistently applied in idustries where there is a turnover of radioactive materials. First of all, it is the mining, processing and use of such radioactive fissile materials as uranium, plutonium, etc. Usually, all nuclear power units at NPPs, uranium and other mines, medical centers, where the isotopes are used for the diagnosis of organs and systems of human body are equipped with dosimetry control systems. Dosimetry is also used in radiation, chemical and biological forces, Customs Service and Ministry of Emergency Situations, in the Railways and Aviation to prevent illegal transportation of radioactive fissile materials. There is a global international program - the "Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons". Unsurprisingly, according to the standards of ICAO - the International Civil Aviation Organization, each flight attendant and pilot of civil aviation are required to have a compact dosimeter to monitor space radiation dose received during the air flight. There is also a strict limit for the number of flight hours per year for all cabin crew members – it is no more than 800 – 900 hours per year. When reaching this limit, the flight personnel must pass special medical inspection and get the permit for further flights. This is very important, because radiation suppresses the immune system of a healthy person, and for not very healthy people it acts like a stimulating factor for activation of chronic diseases.
- Tell us more about your company, its development and place on the market?
- Intersoft Eurasia Company (PJSC) was founded by me in 2010 and started its activity in relation to the DO-RA project in September, 2011 when the Company became Skolkovo Foundation resident (Nuclear Technologies Cluster). And in November 2011, after getting an approval from Russian and foreign specialists (Skolkovo Expert Commission), the Company received its first $40,000 grant for the DO-RA project development. By this time, we have already invested our own $200,000 (at the rate of 2011) in the project. And 2 years later, we received a $1million grant, and our own investment in the project by this time was about $1million as well. As a result, with financial support of Skolkovo Foundation, Intersoft Eurasia team created the line of compact and portable dosimeters-radiometers, operating with key mobile platforms such as: iOS, Android, WP, as well as with stationary OS: MacOS / Linux / Windows. In other words, our devices operate with all smartphones, tablets and computers. Currently, we are working on the launching manufacturing process of DO-RA.badge model with the dimensions of a credit card and only a few millimeters width. We have a list of orders for tens of thousands DO-RA devices both for individuals and legal entities.
Latest information for individuals is availiable on our website: http://intersofteurasia.ru. You can also place an order for DO-RA device at our mobile application which is free to download and availiable at App Store, Google Play, WP Market, etc.
At the moment, we actively seeking for the investors to start the production of electronic components for the project with one of the largest manufacturers of consumer electronics in Taiwan.
- How did you come to the idea of developing dosimeters?
- Chance - is the unknown pattern. But by the chance I went into innovations, and, in particular, the development of the dosimeters-radiometers. The project was preceded by the events of 2011, when on March 11, 2011 an accident occurred at the NPP Fukushima-1. As a result, the surrounding environment (including ground, water and air) was contaminated by radioactive materials. The concequences of this accident quickly spreaded from Japan to America, reached Southeast Asia and Russia. And after writing a scientific article "Our radioactive world" which is devoted to Fukushima accident, I had an idea to integrate dosimeters-radiometers into smartphones which are an essential part of the modern life. My next steps were: patent research, writing an application for the patent, some technical procedures for the passage of the examination at FIIP, and later, the issuance of the first patent for the DO-RA project with which Intersoft Eurasia became Skolkovo resident.
- You have more than 50 patents. What is it like - to be an inventor in Russia?
- At the moment I already have about 60 patents in Russia and abroad for the key economies of the world. It is possible to say that the inventive process "got me" and sometimes I am writing one or two patents per month. The law of the genre – if you began to invent, do not stop for a minute, because the competitors could steal the idea of your latest prototype and make it better. In this sense, the popular expression: "The perfect is the enemy of good" is ideally suited for the inventive process. In general, this work is quite challenging, but interesting, although it takes a lot of time.
But this is only one side of the coin, but there is another, less well-known but more dangerous side - the ability to get under the so-called "patent trolling" or register the invention that has a threshold, not a significant number of differences from the already invented by someone, but not identified by patent search intellectual property object.
And then come litigations with competitors. We just have engaged in such a process, but we hope to win this case with our earlier inventions.
- Now many people talk about building a "knowledge economy". What do you think, what steps should be taken by Russian Government to start this process in our country? Is it possible to build this economic model in Russia at all?
- Russia is the most educated country in the world, believe me, I have visited more than 50 countries, so I know this firsthand. In Russia we have normal, but very talented people by the nature. But due to the lack of financial support, people just left the country. If such project like Skolkovo Foundation has been existed in the 1990s, most of the scientists and innovators who are now working in such companies like Google, Microsoft, Intel and other tech mega corporations could stay here, in Russia, but not in Santa Clara, Boston, Zurich and Tokyo.
Just have a look at Russian military weapons system, in fact, it is one of the best in the world, and this is also a part of the knowledge economy for the protection of the homeland. Therefore, I believe in Russia and in building the knowledge economy of the highest standard here!
The most important thing to achieve it - is to bring back a slightly modernized Soviet educational system, which makes you think, but not guess the correct answer. Therefore, people with Soviet education are still highly valuable all over the world, despite their age.