Using Your Smart Phone for Metal Detection

Searching a stream with a modern metal detector

Searching a stream with a modern metal detector

First, let me apologize for being absent of late. Between promoting my new novel Bloodlines and writing the third book of the trilogy I’ve been neck deep in projects. I’m also trying to get my annual snow casting class put together and research as well. Plus it’s summer and what can I say…

I came across a little smart phone app a while ago that could make for an interesting scene in your novel. Did you know that your smart phone could be used as a metal detector? You see, modern phones have a magnetic sensor used primarily for navigation. But with a little tweaking that same sensor can be used to detect ferrous metals. There are dozens of apps available for both Apple and Android products. One I like is from Phase 2 Media. These apps are geared for the weekend treasure hunter or beach comber but they could come in very handy for your character.

Most CSIs have access to high quality metal detectors rated for both terrestrial and aquatic use.  In fact, metal detectors were born from a need to find forensic evidence.  That’s all well and good but sometimes CSIs aren’t available. With this app a private detective, security guard, soccer mom, or adventurous baby sitter can tap into the same technology to find a crucial clue! How cool is that! Now these phone sensors have limitations. You won’t find a gun buried in ten feet of clay soil but you could find one buried in a few inches. Your character could even use this app to sweep a person for a hidden weapon (just like a security guard does). Or maybe they vacuum seal their phone in a plastic food bag and use it underwater (I wouldn’t try this in real life :)).

The possibilities for this technology are limited only by your imagination. Whether writing a police procedural or a cozy your characters can wow their “peers” and your readers with this high tech app. If you already have a scene using a metal detector, consider rewriting it to include this app. There may be some kind of hurdle that dooms the case until your character overcomes the problem by downloading the app.  If you have a smart phone read the reviews and try playing with one in your yard or better yet…at the beach!

For those who have submitted questions bear with me. I will get to you soon. If you haven’t had a chance to check out Bloodlines watch the trailer below. To those who have purchased it, my deepest thanks!

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About forensics4fiction

Hi there. Thank you for visiting my BLOG for crime writers. I hope you will find it interesting. I would love to hear your questions and thoughts regarding forensics and criminal investigations. I hope that the information here will help answer your questions or ignite your imagination. I am a retired senior criminalist with 15 years of forensic experience. I have served as the president of the Association for Crime Scene Reconstruction, Rocky Mountain Association of Bloodstain Pattern Analysts, and the Rocky Mountain Division of the International Association for Identification. I am triple board certified in forensic related fields and one of only 40 board-certified bloodstain pattern analysts and 80 board-certified footwear examiners worldwide In addition to writing over 60 scientific papers, I have worked as the editor of the Journal of the Association for Crime Scene Reconstruction, been interviewed by and consulted for television, books, magazines, and newspaper articles including documentaries on the Discovery Channel and National Geographic.

Posted on September 3, 2013, in Future Forensics, The Crime Scene and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Can i detect with my smartphone at the beach or in the water ?! :) Great post ! THANKS & HELLO from metal detecting Germany ! RALPH | metalldetektor

  2. Sand on the beach generally allows for more penetration of the signal but I’d be careful about getting the phone near water unless it is in a protective water-tight case. Good luck!


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