Metal detectors are commonly known as items that can be used to find precious metals that are hidden in the ground by those who are looking for buried treasure or at least a few coins along the beach side.
However, metal detectors have many other uses as well including de-mining which is the process of finding hidden land mines, detecting guns and knives at airports and public buildings, and are used for archaeology digs as well as treasure hunting.
Other uses of metal detectors include searching for contamination that may be present in food items and within the construction industry to determine where steel bars may be placed in pipes and concrete that cannot be seen through the walls of a building.
Metal detectors work by using electromagnetic induction in order to detect metal and by using an oscillator that has a current that creates a magnetic field. At the end of the current is a coil and if the coil detects that there is metal nearby an additional current will be sent along the coil and the metal detectors will alert the user of its presence.
Although the technology that is used in metal detectors dates back to the end of the 19th century, the modern forms of the machines originated in the 1930s when Gerhard Fisher was looking for a way to find radio currents for navigation. He found that certain rocks with ores disturbed his signals causing him to reason that if the ores could distort his signals there must be a way to create a metal detector that could detect the presence of metal.
The first usable metal detector was created by a Polish Officer during WWII who used the metal detector to find mine fields set by the Germans. It took fifty years however for the officer to be named the inventor of the product however as it was considered a war weapon and thus a secret of wartime.
After the war ended there were plenty of leftover metal detectors and many people purchased them either as relics from the war. These same purchasers began to use them for entertainment which led to the creation of the hobby of metal detecting.
Today most metal detectors work with integrated computerized circuit technology systems that allow a use to set different controls of sensitivity and discrimination among many other parameters as they desire. Most are also lighter and are cheaper since the technology is common and they require less battery power.
Outside of those who use metal detectors to comb beaches and archaeological digs for treasure, most metal detectors are found in public areas where security is a high concern.
Those who use metal detectors as a hobby usually either partake in beach combing; coin shooting (the practice of looking for old coins or coins outside of an event), relic hunting, prospecting, or treasure hunting in general.
There are many clubs across the UK for hobbyists who enjoy metal detecting to meet and discuss tips and special skills.