Feb. 9 - Colombian designers are developing an insole that will alert rural farmers and security forces to nearby landmines. Decades of civil war have left Colombia peppered with unexploded mines, with more than 10,000 people killed or injured in the past 25 years. Sharon Reich reports.
Colombian designer Jose Ivan Perez says he's trying to save lives. He's helping develop what his company Lemur Studios calls, the SaveOneLife device - a shoe insole that detects landmines and sends a warning to wearers that danger lurks nearby. SOUNDBITE: CREATIVE DIRECTOR OF LEMUR STUDIOS, JOSE IVAN PEREZ, SAYING: "The project consists basically of an insole made for your shoe, whether for a local or the armed forces. The concept is a metal detector, with a planar coil made of conductive material that sends a signal to a device on the user's wrist. This signal will help them avoid the mine or the explosive device or remove the item." In Colombia, unexploded landmines are a deadly legacy of decades of civil war. Hundreds of soldiers and civilians are killed or maimed each year. Perez's team hope the insole will help the Colombian government's mine clearing efforts. It can be worn with a boot or a shoe and detects landmines at a distance of about two meters. . Colombia has been fighting guerilla forces for nearly fifty years....and Daniel Avila Camacho, from the Presidential Mine Action Program, says the country is paying an enormous price. SOUNDBITE: DIRECTOR OF COLOMBIA'S PRESIDENTIAL MINE ACTION PROGRAM (PAICMA), DANIEL AVILA CAMACHO, SAYING: "Colombia continues to be one of the countries most affected by landmines in the world. To date, over the last 23 years, the country has had more than 10,600 victims throughout the country over this period of time due to the use of these kinds of devices which are used by illegal armed groups, especially the FARC and the ELN," said Perez. Experts say it is impossible to estimate the number of undetonated mines, buried in Colombia's countryside. But activists say more funding should be dedicated to technologies like the SaveOneLife insole, so that thousands of lives can be saved.