DoCoMo phone cases detect radiation, bad breath

DoCoMo's prototype phone cases being shown at Ceatec 2011 add specialized sensors to get readings on UV radiation or your waistline.

The case displays ambient radiation in real time, including energy picked up from these radium pellets. Tim Hornyak/CNET

MAKUHARI, Japan--Want to add functionality to your smartphone? NTT DoCoMo is showing off phone cases at Ceatec 2011 here that can detect ultraviolet and gamma radiation, bad breath, and even how fat you are.

On the opening day of the trade show outside Tokyo, visitors flocked to see the phone jackets, which are larger than regular cases due to the sensors they incorporate. They were on display with a DoCoMo Medias smartphone, and don't have a release date yet.

"You blow into these sensors to measure how much alcohol you have consumed, or whether you have bad breath," says Masanori Ishida of DoCoMo's Advanced Technology Group, pointing out a breath sensor on one of the prototypes. "Data from this UV sensor, meanwhile, can be quickly posted to an online map of your area."

Another case has four metallic sensors that you press with your fingers to get a reading of your body fat. After inputting your height, age, and weight, an associated app will tell you whether you're carrying around a few too many pounds.

If you can't stop eating, a breath acetone sensor in your phone will start nagging you. Tim Hornyak/CNET

With the ongoing crisis at the leaking Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, Japanese are measuring radiation everywhere they can. DoCoMo's radiation-sniffing phone case would likely have many potential users.

It's got a small sensor on the back that detects gamma radiation from 0.01 microsievert/hour to 100 millisieverts/hour. The real-time readout jumped when it was brought near a case of radium pellets.

DoCoMo was also showing off a prototype hunger analyzer. It's a Bluetooth-linked breath sensor that measures acetone, a compound that increases in exhaled breath when body fat is being burned, in a range of 0.1 to 50 ppm with an accuracy of plus or minus 30 percent.

If your exhaled acetone is relatively low, you're not burning much fat and so it's not a good time to eat more. You might get too fat and develop metabolic syndrome, and a phone app based on the sensor will warn against it.

I only had a banana for breakfast but after blowing into the straw on the sensor, it told me I wasn't hungry at all.

My stomach begged to differ.

 

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