This Interactive Space Lets You Know What It’s Like To Walk Through A Minefield

An app and proximity sensors give exhibition-goers a sense of what it’s like to constantly live in fear that you’re about to step on an explosive.

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve never had to walk through a minefield.


But land mines are a major problem in the world today. Every day, 10 people are killed or maimed by land mines, according to the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS). Land mines and other unexploded ordinance are the forgotten remnants of war zones, the danger that lingers for civilians long after a conflict ends. Current estimates put the number of land mines at one for every 17 children in the world.

To raise awareness of this issue, UNMAS, in partnership with digital agency Critical Mass and photographer Marco Grob, held a one-day interactive exhibit simulating a minefield. Using their own smartphone app and Apple’s iBeacon technology, visitors walk through the exhibition-turned-minefield and try not to set off any mines. The iBeacon’s proximity sensors act as triggers that detonate the simulated “mines.”

When a visitor trips a land mine, the app simulates an explosion, followed by information about the mine that they detonated. Those statistics include the cost to arm versus disarm, the country where that specific explosive is most found, and rather harrowing percentages of soldiers and civilians killed.

“If we actually put our minds and our money toward this, we could de-mine the planet in our lifetime,” says Dianne Wilkins, CEO of Critical Mass. “There are so many good causes that we don’t have a chance to affect in our lifetime. And this is one that we can.”

The app is only a rough approximation of the fear that land mines cause in civilian population. But it is close enough that exhibit visitors came away with a sense of how ruthlessly indiscriminate land mines are in who they affect.

Beyond the human casualties, land mines also remove otherwise arable farming land from use. Every year UNMAS reclaims thousands of square miles for productive use. You can read more about UNMAS’s work at its website.


The exhibit was a one-day event for April 4, International Mine Awareness Day.

About the author

Jay is a freelance journalist, formerly a staff writer for Fast Company. He writes about technology, inequality, and the Middle East.