You can turn your smartphone into an explosives detection device. Some students at the Military University of Technology in Warsaw have developed an app called Saper that will enable your smartphone to do just that.
Saper, which is also the Polish term for “minesweeper”, is an acronym for Sensor Amplified Perception for Explosives Recognition. The app makes use of your smartphone’s magnetometer, which is usually responsible for compass-like functions, in order to detect small disturbances in the magnetic field around an explosive substance. The app is able to sniff out 40 different kinds of explosive materials from 30 cm away.
To use it, you have to first let the app calibrate to the environment. Then you wave your smartphone as if painting a grid measuring a maximum of 30 x 30 cm no further than 30 cm away from the potential threat source. The app then connects to a cloud-based server and compares the recorded magnetic disturbance signature with those found in the database. If a threat is detected, a warning message returns with a possible identification of the certain type of explosive in the sampled area.
The app has been developed exclusively for the Windows Phone operating system, but it will be made available on other platforms soon. The team is also exploring other things such as using the magnetometer to detect wires within a wall or foreign objects in the human body.