People are usually smuggled illegally in containers like these. Franklin Felber has invented a sensor that can detect sound behind metal walls. (via Franklin Felber)

Human smuggling is still a prominent issue in various countries around the world. Since people are usually smuggled in trucks, train compartments, or shipping container made of metal it becomes difficult to detect them. While politicians and authorities all over are searching for solutions to prevent human trafficking, Franklin Felber has come up with a new invention. Felber, who works at the San Diego consulting company Starmark, has developed an acoustic sensor that's supposed to be sensitive enough to detect a person's breathing from behind metal walls.



I imagine the frightening sound... in the cargo hold, the system pounds on the container walls. Incessant, continuous sound. 


The system, which costs $10,000 per unit, uses an acoustic sensor that looks like a hammer which bangs against a thin metal plate designed to be attached to the walls of the container. This combination of hammer on plate creates a sound that resonates at a certain frequency that can pass through metal. From there, the signal bounces back to an acoustic receiver, which distinguishes between sounds reflected by still objects and ones that move. The sensors can also detect small and slow motions and have high resolution tracking and locating devices.




Though Felber has tested the device numerous times to get it to its current stage, the it still needs to be carefully secured to the wall so it will change resonant frequencies. If not placed properly it can cause the signals to get lost. Yet, Felber remains optimistic that his invention can help and claims it's “capable of remotely and nonintrusively scanning steel cargo containers for stowaways at a rate of two containers per minute.” It seems a bit far fetched that a sensor is the answer to the human smuggling problem; we'll have to wait and see if the product makes good on its word.

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