As designers I feel that it is our duty to raise awareness of social issues around the world. We also have the power to eliminate these issues and influence minds by creating products, spaces, etc which take the consumer through a physical experience.
Design Activism is about working creatively with the society at large by taking design beyond product design and organising events which educate the consumer. Moreover, it is also the first on the list of most important strategies to me, and as I have not explored it in my previous posts, I have decided to dig deeper into it for my personal research.
Mine Kafon, the brainchild of Afghan product designer Massoud Hassani, is a cost-efficient wind-powered land mine detector. Hassani, who was born and grew up in Afghanistan, had first-hand experience with land mines. The designer moved around 40 times before settling in the Netherlands with his family, where he went on to study Industrial Design at Design Academy Eindhoven.
What was created as an art object for his graduation project has now become an important tool in raising awareness about a subject that is widely neglected: Landmines. As children, Massoud and his brother made home-made wind-powered toys which became the inspiration for Mine Kafon. The machine looks like a giant dandelion puff ball that rolls across the land, detonating the landmines that are detected underneath. Made of bamboo, iron and plastic the design was a finalist in London’s Design Museums 2012 Design of the Year Award.
The Mine Kafon is approximately the height and weight of an average man, which expends enough pressure to detonate the landmines. The iron casing core is surrounded by dozens of bamboo stems which each have a plastic “foot” at the end. The feet act as a suspension mechanism which allow the Mine Kafon to roll smoothly over bumps, obstacles and holes. A GPS unit is also installed which maps the route that the detonator has taken.
Estimates from the UN tell us that the price of removing a landmine is 50 times the amount of its production and installation, and the removal is not without human cost. Although the Mine Kafon loses some legs with each detonation, it can blow up 3 to 4 landmines on each journey, without risking human lives. The Mine Kafon is faster, safer and up to 120 times cheaper than traditional landmine removal techniques.
Here is an informative video that shows the Mine Kafon in action:
Mine Kafon: Drone
The Mine Kafon drone is very different to the original Mine Kafon. Rather than operating on land, the unmanned drone hovers above potentially dangerous areas, generating a 3D map using its 3D camera, GPS and a computer. It then uses a metal detector which is kept close to the ground, using sensors and a retractable arm to pinpoint and geotag landmine sites. The drone then places a detonator on the landmine with its arm before floating to safety and detonating the mine.
The company, Hassani Design BV, claims that the drone is 20 times faster and up to 200 times cheaper than current technologies. Additionally, they have estimated that the mines may be cleared up globally by the drone in the next 10 years. A drawback is that it is especially difficult to identify mines that have been buried underground for a long time and the locations obtained by GPS are not entirely reliable.
Future ideas for improvements include optimising the drone and creating base stations, using external antennas to triangulate locations, to train pilots to use the drone and carry out tests in different countries.
The Mine Kafon is a revolutionary invention as it highlights and tackles the deadly issue of landmines. For years people had been terrorised by the idea of losing a loved one at the hands of an underground explosion, but Hassani has given them a new hope. The results already show a positive change as operating the Mine Kafon is cheaper and safer, and can be done without putting human lives at risk. Personally, I believe that the Mine Kafon is an invention that the world didn’t even know they desperately needed.
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Mine kafon. (2018). Mine Kafon – Home. [online] Available at: http://minekafon.org/
En.wikipedia.org. (2018). Mine Kafon Drone. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mine_Kafon_Drone
Mine kafon. (2018). Mine Kafon Prototypes – Mine kafon. [online] Available at: http://minekafon.org/minekafonprototypes/