The pelting rain that the world, primarily Asia witnessed this year took away countless lives and left several others homeless by causing disastrous landslides. Would it be great if there were a way to detect landslides in advance? Well, a professor of geotechnical engineering at Loughborough University in the UK has developed a system that could do just that. Dr. Neil Dixon has developed a new technology that monitors soil acoustics to determine when a landslide is imminent.
His system works by using a network of sensors that consists of a long steel tube, known as a wave guide, topped with a piezo-electric transducer. These sensors are buried across landslide-prone hillside and as the soil in the hillside moves, it creates acoustic stress waves, which travel up and are registered by the transducers. The transducers convert the energy of the waves into electrical signals, which are sent to a central computer. Whenever the computer gets information of too much soil movement, it immediately sends a text message warning to local authorities.
This system could help in help in saving several lives. Now, Dixon is working with his colleagues to develop a simpler sensors that don’t require a central computer, but instead are each capable of emitting their own visual and/or audible alarms. We can hope to see the technology commercializing within the next two years.