Colombia's long guerrilla war has left a dangerous legacy in its fields and jungles: thousands of land-mines. Groups like the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) buried the devices to protect their bases and drug plantations, and the result has been terrible for soldiers and civilians alike. Mines have maimed more than 10,000 people since 1990; only Afghanistan has had more such victims.
The only real solution, of course, is to clear the mines and destroy them. And a process to do that is now under way. In the meantime, though, people are still exposed to danger, and there's a need for technology that helps people walk through rural areas without constant fear.
Lemur Studio, a design firm in Bogotá, has one idea. It's a mine detector that fits inside someone's shoe, alerting the wearer if an explosive device is within a few feet. It's aimed at troops, people eradicating illicit crops, and farmers. The studio is now looking for funding and support to get it built (it's still a concept at the moment).
Called SaveOneLife, the detector consists of a coil printed on a thin conductive material. It produces an electromagnetic field, and in turn detects another electromagnetic field from large pieces metal nearby. If it finds a mine, the device sends a signal to a wristband, telling the wearer to watch out or change direction.
"The device was created with the goal of saving a life, hence the name, first by the families of the victims and second for the cost effects of military forces by the loss of his men in combat," says Iván Pérez, Lemur's creative director. He's currently presenting the idea to Colombia's military, who he hopes will fund development. The idea has been nominated for several design prizes.
"We would like many people to benefit from it, not just people in the armed forces but also peasants and workers," Pérez says. "We hope that some company or government wants to give us the support we need to complete the project and bring it to reality."