Professor Uwe Hartmann (credit Das Bilderwerk)

Using the Earth's field to detect intruders

Researchers have found a way of using tiny changes in the Earth’s magnetic field to locate potential intruders.

Climbing a fence or cutting its links will inevitably cause a vibrational disturbance that alters the magnetic field.

Uwe Hartmann, Professor for Experimental Physics at Saarland University, and research assistant Haibin Gao, are using tiny, highly sensitive, magnetometers to pick up and report these changes.

The magnetometer probes are arranged like beads on a necklace within a cable that is incorporated either permanently or temporarily into the fence or buried in the ground.

These probes form part of a bus communication network and immediately report any physical disturbance or change.

The researchers use complex algorithms to analyse the signals generated by the individual sensors.

These algorithms are being developed and refined in order to unambiguously distinguish natural disturbances triggered by wind or animals from those caused by a human intruder.

Prof Hartmann pointed out that the sensors do not record any personal data.

They only indicate the location of a disturbance and whether it was likely to be caused by human interference.

Moreover, he added, “the smart sensor cable does not require any major conversion work to be carried out before it can be used, and makes barbed wire and camera surveillance superfluous.”

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