New App Turns Android Smartphones Into Earthquake Detectors
Researchers have developed an app that can turn smartphones into a worldwide seismic network that could eventually warn users of impending jolts from a nearby earthquake.
With the help of a smartphone’s accelerometer – the motion-detection instrument – the app, called MyShake taps a phone’s ability to record ground shaking from an earthquake.
The android app, which can be downloaded from Google Play Store, runs in the background with little power, so that a phone’s onboard accelerometers can record local shaking any time of the day or night.
For now, the app only collects information from the accelerometers, analyses it and, if it fits the vibrational profile of a quake, relays it and the phone’s GPS coordinates to the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, for analysis.
However, once enough people are using it, the seismologists plan to use the data to warn people miles from ground zero that shaking is rumbling their way.
“MyShake cannot replace traditional seismic networks like those run by the US Geological Survey, UC Berkeley, the University of Washington and Caltech, but we think MyShake can make earthquake early warning faster and more accurate in areas that have a traditional seismic network, and can provide life-saving early warning in countries that have no seismic network,” said the leader of the app project Richard Allen from the University of California, Berkeley.