The Future is Here: The Wearable Landmine Detector

landmine1In certain developing nations, landmines are a terrible scourge that cause countless deaths and injuries. In most cases, the landmines are forgotten relics, the leftover remnants of civil wars, terrorist campaigns and national liberation efforts. Have been buried in unmarked areas and forgotten, many of the victims that come across these little packages of death do so entirely by accident.

Over the past century, the situation has become such that a ban was placed on their sale and in 1997 – officially known as the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention or Ottawa Treaty (my old hometown, where the treaty was signed). However, banning the manufacture and sale of the devices addresses the problem at only one end, and does not address the many thousands of mines that have to be found and disposed of.

landmine_problemIn Colombia, for instance, some 10,000 have been maimed by anti-personnel devices since 1990, putting the country second only to Afghanistan in the total number of deaths and injuries associated with landmines. This is due to Colombia’s long guerrilla war, where groups like the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have used mines to protect their bases and drug plantations.

The only real solution, of course, is to clear the mines and destroy them – a process that is now under way. In the meantime, however, people are still exposed to danger, and there’s a need for technology that helps people walk through rural areas without constant fear. Enter the SaveOneLife, a wearable landmine detector you slip into your shoe that may save your life.

saveonelifeDesigned by Lemur Studio, a design firm in Bogotá, the detector alerts the wearer if an explosive device is within a few feet of their path. It’s aimed at troops, people eradicating illicit crops (i.e. coca leaves and poppies), and farmers, all people who have to deal with landmines on a regular basis. Currently in the conceptual phase, the studio is looking for funding and support to get it built.

The detector consists of a coil printed on a thin conductive material that produces an electromagnetic field. This field in turn detects other electromagnetic fields that are emitted by large pieces metal nearby. If it finds a mine within the wearer’s proximity, the device sends a signal to a wristband, telling the wearer to watch out or change direction.

saveonelife2Iván Pérez, Lemur’s creative director, is currently presenting the idea to Colombia’s military, who he hopes will fund development. But of course, the device is intended for use far beyond the armed forces, ensuring that there are no more accidental victims. As Pérez himself explained:

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. We would like many people to benefit from it, not just people in the armed forces but also peasants and workers. We hope that some company or government wants to give us the support we need to complete the project and bring it to reality.

The idea has been nominated for several design prizes. And if funded, is likely to be adopted for use by NGOs, medics, engineers, civilians and military forces worldwide. But even if Pérez and his studio are not endorsed by the Colombian government (which is unlikely given the problem of landmines), an international crowdfunding campaign is likely to succeed.

landmine2After all, the problem of landmines is one that cuts across nations, organizations, and people of all walks of life, and a device that helps deal with this problem is likely to draw a lot of attention and interest. Being able to tackle the problem of forgotten ordinance and hidden dangers at the other end of the things will be a big step in helping to eliminating this dangerous legacy.

Source: fastcoexist.com

 

The Birth of an Idea: “Alpha Mike”

Zombie Apocalypse by geodex
Zombie Apocalypse by geodex

I love it when an idea comes together! And what started as an experiment into zombie lit back in March of 2012 is coming together at last with a third and final installment. Yep, after a few weeks of hiatus, I’ve managed to finish my preliminary draft for the third act of Whiskey Delta, which I have decided to name Alpha Mike. Like the previous two installments, the name is an acronym based on the NATO phonetic alphabet.

And as with the previous two novels, this acronym has special significance. To break it down succinctly:

Whiskey Delta = WD = Walking Dead

Pappa Zulu = PZ = Patient Zero

Alpha Mike = AM = Ambulus Mortus

In each chapter, the name refers to the overriding theme of the story. Whereas Act I in any story is all about introductions, I chose to name in honor of the term used by the main characters to designate their enemy. In Act II, the war took a different coarse, as a new enemy emerged that wanted control over the cure. As such, this story was named after the first man infected by the virus – aka. Mance Harmonn, Patient Zero.

And for the final act of the trilogy, I chose the name of the virus itself. Those who have been following this series will (hopefully) recognize it as the Latin designation which literally translates to “walking dead”. Since the final installment will focus on bringing the war in its entirety to a close, I could think of no better name for it. For as the Mage, a central figure in the story, will be quoted as saying:

This is a war unlike any other in our history. We fight not against men or nations, not for spoils, honor, or revenge. Ours is a war against a contagion, an infection which turns our own against us and corrupts all life. Ours is a war against fear, chaos, despair, and death itself.

I plan to begin work on it just as soon as this season of the Walking Dead is over and I finish my work on a few outstanding projects. These would include “Arrivals”, my last contribution to the Yuva anthology, and editing Rami’s story Reborn City. Those are in various stages of completion and I shall not risk getting distracted at this point! As they say (or maybe I just made it up), overbooking is the enemy of completion!

So if you’re into zombie lit and liked the previous two, expect new chapters coming soon! As usual, they stand to be packed with plenty of zombie-smashing action, military misadventure, and post-apocalyptic goodness. Just watch for the title, Alpha Mike!

zombie_nightmare

The Future is Here: The AirMule!

urbanaero_muleMilitary necessity has been an engine for creation since the beginnings of recorded history. With soldiers constantly looking for new ways to kill each other, as well as save the lives of their own, one can always expect to see new and exciting technologies taking the field. And often as not, these developments have a way of trickling down and impacting society as a whole.

Take the AirMule, a compact, unmanned, single-engine vehicle that is being developed by Urban Aeronautics. Based in Israel, this company is dedicated to the creation of Vertical-Takeoff-and-Landing (VTOL) craft that utilize internal lift rotors to get in and out of tight areas, ostensibly for the purpose of supporting military personnel,  evacuating the wounded, and conducting remote reconnaissance missions.

airmuleIn an age where military forces are relying increasingly on unmanned aerial vehicles, the AirMule is designed to be used in operations that fit the 3 D’s: Dirty, Dangerous or Dull. In addition, it is controlled through remote operation and Tele-Presence, meaning the pilots who operate it do so from the safety of a base behind the front lines. The addition of this technology allows remote operators to stay safe while still feeling like they are physically on the scene.

The immediate benefits of this vehicle lie in the fact that it is able to fly at extremely low altitudes, allowing it to pass beneath enemy fields of fire and radar. At the same time, it is capable of taking off and landing in regions that are not accessible by conventional CasEvac craft, such as helicopters. This represents another concern for military planners, who are forced to contend with the fact that wars are increasingly fought against insurgents in places like cities, villages and other inaccessible environments.

The vehicle is capable of airlifting a 500 kg load, which can take the form of wounded personnel or 500 kilos of supplies. In this way, the AirMule is able to provide point to point logistic support as well as life-saving evac missions for wounded soldiers. However, it also has a number of applications for non-military use, such as assisting EMTs in rescuing injured people, delivering supplies to disaster-stricken areas, and offering assessment capabilities to companies who need to conduct inspections in potentially hazardous zones.

No telling when the AirMule will be taking the field, but in all likelihood, it won’t be more than a few years. What’s more, with the nature of military engagements changing and unmanned technology on the rise, just about every advanced military on the planet is likely to be following suit. And as always, we can expect the technology to trickle down to society as a whole, with robotic hovercraft replacing ambulances and medevac choppers within a decade’s time.

Check out the video of the AirMule concept and its field tests. It’s a few minutes long, but quite interesting: