An innovative fire detector was demonstrated at the Skolkovo Technopark on Monday by Skolkovo Foundation resident company KB Somov.

Maxim Somov demonstrating the efficiency of his company's fire detectors in the basement of the Skolkovo Technopark. Photo:

KB Somov’s Graviton Multisensor detectors are 10 times more sensitive than standard smoke detectors, says their inventor Maxim Somov, meaning they are effective even in large spaces with high ceilings, such as warehouses, and work faster than any existing systems.

“They work not by detecting smoke, but by detecting the smell,” he told, explaining that the sensors in the detectors respond to the air components around them.

“It has an algorithm of three parametres: carbon monoxide, which is the cause of death in 70 percent of fatal fires, as well as carbon dioxide and hydrogen,” said Somov.

The device also responds to temperature, but “that’s the last thing taken into account: when the temperature is going up, that’s already a serious fire, so it’s too late,” he added.

To prove his claim that the system can detect the burning of just a few pieces of paper even in large premises, Somov, who has been dubbed “the Urals [Steve] Jobs,” led reporters down into the cavernous basement of the giant Skolkovo Technopark, where KB Somov has moved to from Somov’s garage in his native Yekaterinburg, and proceeded to set fire to several sheets of A4 paper.

The detectors can be integrated into KB Somov's smart home systems. Photo:

True to Somov’s word, before 35 seconds had passed, a sensor five metres away from the burning paper had registered the fire.

The product is not cheaper than current fire prevention systems, but it is 10 times more sensitive, which means there is an increased chance of being able to put out the fire and save the surroundings before it is too late, says Somov. The detectors will pick up on a fire within a minute, depending on what exactly is burning, he said.

Sensors should be placed with no more than 10 metres between them to ensure efficient protection of premises. That means that in spaces of up to 100 square metres, one or two sensors are enough. The detectors function perfectly amid fluctuations in temperature and humidity, says Somov.

KB Somov won first prize at the Startup Village at the Skolkovo innovation centre in 2015, and subsequently became a resident of the Skolkovo Foundation. The company makes a range of security products, ranging from burglar alarms to devices for detecting hidden occupants in cars. The fire detector was designed and built with support from the Skolkovo Foundation.

As well as installation in homes and offices, Somov says the ideal premises for using his fire detectors are archives, timber-processing plants and logistics sites: anywhere where there is a lot of paper, wood and products made from them.

He is also keen to test the detectors in an airborne plane, where he believes they would be a highly effective way of ensuring that passengers don’t smoke in aircraft toilets, in contravention of airline regulations. The company is confident their system would swiftly detect even a match being struck in an aircraft toilet, but, Somov laments, it is considerably harder to get permission to carry out tests on board an aircraft than in the Skolkovo Technopark.

The company is currently in the process of obtaining certification for the product: a lengthy process that Somov says can take up to two years. In the meantime, KB Somov already has clients who are installing their fire detectors as a more reliable measure, in addition to certified systems already in place on the premises, he said.