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by Tim Beissmann

A technology company in the US says it is almost ready to release a handheld device that would allow police to catch drivers illegally using their mobile phones.

The Virginian Pilot reports ComSonics, which specialises in cable television installation and calibration of speed detection equipment, is “close to production” with a radar gun-style device that can identify phone use within cars by detecting the unique radio frequencies they emit when active.

The technology is similar to that used by cable repairmen to find where cables damaged by looking for leaking frequencies.

Text messages, phone calls and sending and receiving data all emit different detectable radio frequencies that would be individually identified by the device, allowing police to know exactly what motorists were doing with their phones.

ComSonics says while the device will be able to detect phone use, it will not be able to decode the information transmitted, removing invasion of privacy fears.

The device faces a few hurdles, however, with ComSonics offering no solution for detecting if the active phone is being used by the driver or a passenger, or if it is operating legally using Bluetooth streaming.

It also needs to gain legislative approval and earn the thumbs up from police before going mainstream.

It is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving in all Australian states and territories. Similar rules apply in the US and other countries.