Wind-powered mine detonator
on Kickstarter

| 13 comments

Mine Kafon mine detonator

News: a project to bring cheap and easy-to-build mine detonators to Afghan minefields has just nine days left to raise the final £14,000 of its £100,000 goal on crowdfunding website Kickstarter.

Conceived by Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Massoud Hassani, who grew up in Kabul, Afghanistan, Mine Kafon is made of bamboo and biodegradable plastic, and rolls along the ground like tumbleweed.

Mine Kafon mine detonator

Light enough to be propelled by the wind, the detonator is also heavy enough to set off mines as it rolls over them with its round feet, as Hassani explains in this movie filmed by Dezeen at the Design Academy Eindhoven My Way talks in Milan last year (below).

"Every ball has GPS navigation integrated into it," he says. "You can see the balls on the internet, so you can see where they went and how many mines they touched. You can also select an area and it will calculate how safe the area is."

With each detonation the Mine Kafon loses only a few legs, so it can destroy three or four landmines in one journey. The construction is modular so components that return in one piece can easily be reused and sent out again.

Hassani's team is hoping to raise £100,000 through Kickstarter to cover the cost of engineering, fabrication and transportation to an affected region, as well as making a short documentary.

Mine Kafon mine detonator

Trend forecaster Li Edelkoort commented on Mine Kafon during her Dezeen Live talk during London Design Festival last year, noting that the design originated from a paper toy Hassani had played with in his youth. "It’s a mine killer, but it's completely organic and very cheap," she said, adding, "it’s very beautiful how a childhood toy can become such an amazing device."

The design made the shortlist of the Design Museum's Designs of the Year 2012 and has also been acquired by MoMA in New York, where it will be exhibited from March.

Above: Hassani introduces Mine Kafon in this movie for Kickstarter

We've featured many projects launched on Kickstarter, including squishy headgear that lets you take a power nap wherever you are and a watch strap for an iPod Nano that raised $1 million on the crowdfunding website.

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Photographs are by Massoud Hassani.

  • http://www.dailygrail.com Red Pill Junkie

    Thanks for bringing this project to our attention, Dezeen.

  • http://swlkr.net Sam Walker

    I’m really dismayed to see this project raising so much money. As discussed at length on HackerNews when this project was launched ( http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4808061 ), this is not a new idea, and in fact has been extensively tested and studied. Such devices are not being used currently because they have been determined to be ineffective.

    Of course no-one coming upon this project on design blogs or the Kickstarter page is aware of the history or practicality of this idea, and the creators seem to be deliberately glossing over the real utility of the device. So they’re raising this money (pounds are not the same as dollars, by the way — the amount is actually approximately $162,000 USD) to further develop a device of minimal utility that they already have a working prototype of, and make a documentary about it?

    I can only conclude this project is getting so much attention because it is visually compelling, and I can’t help but think that $162,000 could be better spent funding organizations already doing the painstaking work of ridding the world of landmines with proven methods, rather than going towards these designers’ feel-good vanity project.

    • Emilie/Dezeen

      Hi,

      You're right, they are in fact hoping to raise £100,000. Thanks for pointing it out!

      Emilie/Dezeen

    • http://www.designflick.com Michael

      I understand what you are saying, but the world has to have people who question the current methods or we would NEVER advance. Designers try new things every day on the off-chance that it will improve the way we live.

  • vincent

    Please not again this useless thing. Useless you say? Yes, to be outspoken, it’s a useless hipster-designer-device meant for self-importance and sucking up charity money.

    So the idea is to let it tumble around for an infinite amount of time in the hope it will touch a mine. And there is no way to control it if a mine has sneaked between its legs. Mines planted under even a small elevation will never be detected, because wind may move it forward, but never uphill (hello Afghan landscape). It’s also unfit for rock deserts, which is the standard in Afghanistan. Speaking of deserts, the biodegradable plastic will not degrade in a dry environment. The low-tech device costs more then a standard metal detector and can be used for just one mine. So better buy lots of metal detectors. The Afghans can handle those, they are not idiots. The designer should know that, he is from Afghanistan. Although I have my fears that he has lost sense about his former home country.

    I dare the designer to take a walk through a minefield where this thing has been tumbling around, just to prove his confidence.

    • vincent

      Reply to myself… £100,000! The cheapest metal detectors cost just £100, the best cost £1000 and those don’t need the money for “improving the prototype”. Once you found one, it can be detonated by shooting at it with a gun (which seem to be abundant there). That´s how we did here it after WW2

      • Donkey

        How do you get the metal detector over the mine without blowing the metal detector to pieces?

  • dr venkman

    Donkey land mines go off when stepped on. Generally, it is ship mines that are magnetic proximity triggered.

  • http://guykeulemans.com Guy

    Ditto what Sam Walker and vincent just said, I'm also dismayed to see how this project has transformed into a blatantly marketing focused kickstarter initiative. Lampshade and iphone covers as rewards? Give me a break. Hassani himself has admitted elsewhere on the internet that it doesn't actually work for the purpose at hand and at least needs a radical redesign to have a peripheral function, but is open about none of this at the Kickstarter site. Thats not to say I think the project is wholly deficient – as a student graduation work it deserves praise for re-drawing media attention to landmines. But its done is dash in its current form and judging by that kickstarter page its turned into the KONY2012 of 2013.

    • Paul

      Well I’m glad to see someone is doing something for the better. I don’t know anyone who would not try to come up with 160,000USD to save the life of a family member. Here since it is saving the lives of people we don’t know it is all of a sudden a bad idea. Lets see some of these posters try to raise some money for roving metal detectors.

      • http://guykeulemans.com Guy

        Well Paul, you’ve completely missed that point that he is NOT raising 160,000 to save the life of a family member, because his design does not work. It’s become a vanity project. You could try some critical thinking on this issue instead of an appeal to emotion.

  • Seth

    I agree with Sam. While this is a beautifully designed approach it is not the most effective. The author of this article built a simulation showing the ineffectiveness of the kafons. http://www.statisticsblog.com/2013/01/simulation-of-landmine-clearing-with-massoud-hassanis-mine-kafon/

    • http://guykeulemans.com Guy

      Thats fascinating Seth, thanks for finding it. It strikes me that if Hassani had studied at the TU/e, a short walk away from the DAE in Eindhoven, his tutors might have encouraged him to think about clearance statistics and build his own such simulation. In which case the Kafon might never have been built. Despite what I and others have said above, I don’t think that would be a good thing – the Kafon has drawn attention to the problem in a very graceful and effective way (look at it – it looks like an explosion!). I also think that Hassani has invested the conceptual design with a powerful personal narrative that perhaps has not been fully felt since Diana Spencer’s campaign (if we remember the famous photos of her uniformed in anti-mine protection clothes). Conceptual design has an important role to play that is especially contemporary, but I think conceptual designers also need to learn not get carried away with their own hype and, more importantly, collaborate with specialists who can reign in their irrational fancies.