One of the big problems with using metal detectors to find unexploded landmines is that they detect all pieces of metal in the ground, often forcing operators to inspect every suspect item they find. This can be very dangerous, so researchers at Harvard have figured out how to use smartphones to find landmines.
Trained and experienced operators can tell by the beeps coming from their detectors the size and shape of objects found. Harvard researchers take these beeps and map them onto a smartphone screen, such as an iPhone, to better visualise what's been found. The PETALS (Pattern Enhancement Tool for Assisting Landmine Sensing) researchers have shown that inexperienced users are up to 80 percent more efficient using their technique, which could save a lot of lives.
Using existing devices like iPhones makes the system potentially very cheap to deploy. Researchers hope that users already familiar with their smartphone interface should find it simple to use.