Imagine I was working in the woods and dropped my cell phone somewhere in a large area where it is now hidden beneath dense vegetation. By calling it I confirm that either it has powered off or its battery is dead. How can I find it?

A consumer metal detector (induction magnetometer) will easily find it if I can get within a few feet of it. But there must be more efficient means of finding electronics in a wide wilderness area given their unique and unnatural characteristics. For example:

  1. They contain dense, refined metals. There is easily more copper, nickel, and perhaps a few other elements in a phone than in an acre of wilderness almost anywhere.

  2. They contain antennas. Even when powered off, the electronic structures are there to receive and transmit signals efficiently in a particular spectrum.

Can radar be used to discriminate either of these characteristics and provide a practical means of scanning a large area to zero in on the device? Are there existing systems that do this?

  • $\begingroup$ Enable “find my phone”, then attach phone to belt with piece of string... prevention is better than cure... $\endgroup$
    – Solar Mike
    Mar 24, 2018 at 16:42
  • $\begingroup$ @SolarMike: The anecdote is for illustration. The general question is, "What technologies can detect unpowered electronic devices that may be concealed from view but present in a large area where no (or few) other artificial devices would be expected to clutter any signal that may be used for detection and location?" $\endgroup$
    – feetwet
    Mar 24, 2018 at 18:12
  • $\begingroup$ Then you should edit your question to improve it and remove excess information... $\endgroup$
    – Solar Mike
    Mar 24, 2018 at 18:31


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