Radiation Detection
Meets Android Devices


The KoyrGeiger Android-enabled Geiger counter. Image: Mark Delgado

The idea came to Mark Delgado, an undergraduate nuclear engineering student at North Carolina State University, in his dorm room. After learning that radiation detection technology hadn’t really changed for more than 40 years, Delgado decided to make something better.

“In terms of technological innovation, the industry still uses radiation detectors based on a 1970s design,” he says. “The user spins a dial in order to give measurements. Companies must then record measurements by hand, enter them into a data analysis program by hand, file all paperwork by hand, and finally input the results into a database by hand.”

To improve this process, Delgado built his own “very simple” ionization chamber out of some scraps, tape, and a breadboard. After some refinements, he created a small, portable, wireless radiation detector that connects with wireless devices to transmit data.

Hi-Tech Detection

Delgado’s KoyrGeiger connects with Android devices and turns them into very advanced radiation detectors with GPS capability to log data and calculate numbers. All the standard data analysis, paperwork, and data entry can be done automatically, saving the operator time and money.

The KoyrGeiger connects to Android devices to provide data logging and analysis capabilities. Image: Koyrengineering.com

One possible application is for nuclear energy and medical facilities to monitor radiation levels and transmit that data to a central computer system, providing an effective way to identify any radiation leaks in real time. It could also be used to monitor radiation in larger areas, where detectors are carried by employees or inspectors. This would be an ideal way to rapidly identify the limits of larger radiation leaks that could harm larger populations or communities, using real-time data analysis with a central computer. For example, if a radioactive act of terrorism occurred, first responders using these devices would be “live” points in a real-time detection network that could quickly identify the source of the radiation, and any danger zones.

After several rounds of funding, including $23,000 from the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance, Delgado was able to commercialize his product. He launched his start-up company, Koyr, Inc., in Raleigh, NC, with the goal of developing radiation detection solutions for customers who require radiation detectors capable of GPS coordination, data logging, and data analysis. “Our device combines the accuracy and reliability of LND tubes with the power and capability of an Android device,” says Delgado.

Beyond KoyrGeiger

Koyr is marketing KoyrGeiger to nuclear power plants to improve workflow automation. “We're currently focusing on using software and hardware to automate labor-intensive tasks and paperwork for nuclear power plants, starting with low-risk tasks to further show credibility of the device,” says Delgado. “We have also successfully completed a pilot program with a nuclear power plant of a very large utility company, and are hoping to have some big announcements very soon.”

Once Delgado has achieved further success with a broader range of tasks, he plans to build products for power plants across multiple markets and with different teams. “The first product focuses on the inventory and upkeep of several important items on site,” he says. “We're currently working with radiation protection teams; however, we'd like to grow into fire protection, chemistry, operations, and any other team that could have a use for us. Eventually, we would like to be in a position in which we could drive innovation in the industry, and be the Google or Apple of nuclear power.”

Delgado is excited to be in a creative space where he can build products at the intersection of hardware and software.

“Think of it as combining hardware and software to add features and capabilities that were previously not possible,” he says. “The exciting part is seeing how far we can push the hardware and how innovative we can get when solving problems. For example, if we can solve three problems with one scalable solution, then all parties win and the industry can advance more rapidly.”

Mark Crawford is an independent writer.

The exciting part is seeing how far we can push the hardware and how innovative we can get when solving problems.

Mark Delgado,
CEO, Koyr, Inc.


August 2014

by Mark Crawford, ASME.org