Innovation That Matters

From Poland, app helps detect landmines

Sport & Fitness

A group of students from the Military University of Technology in Warsaw has developed the SAPER app, which uses smartphone compass features to pick up disturbances in the magnetic field of an area.

In the past we’ve seen military apparatus appropriated for commercial uses, with former bases turned into storage for DNA samples and aircraft carriers transformed into hotels. Reversing this pattern however, a student group from the Military University of Technology in Warsaw, called ARMED, has adapted the everyday technology of the smartphone to create SAPER — a mine-detecting app for use by peace-keeping forces. The app uses the same technology that powers smartphones’ compass function in order to detect disturbances in the magnetic field of an area suspected to have landmines or improvised explosive devices (IEDs). The user interface mimics a radar, showing the direction of the disturbance, and also includes a real-time graph to show the level of magnetic distortion. According to reports, a 3-D map is built out of the data collected by moving the smartphone over a particular area. The app also uses BingMaps to enable users to place a marker, letting others know of the threat if it cannot be disarmed, creating a database of dangerous areas. The app was a finalist in Microsoft’s Imagine Cup awards, and as such, is currently only available on devices with the Windows Phone operating system. ARMED also hopes to develop the app to improve the range at which it can detect landmines from one foot to three feet. The following video explains more about its operation: While military staff may have access to more reliable equipment for detecting threats such as landmines, the app could come in useful as a last resort, or for peace-keeping bodies or volunteers providing aid in war-torn countries — especially in emergency situations. Are there any other developments that could utilize smartphone technologies to provide lifesaving capabilities?
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