Smartphones are becoming useful for a variety of real-world scenarios besides communication. From monitoring blood to scanning nanoparticles to powering satellites, smartphones are proving their worth beyond just texting your friends and checking Facebook. Now, scientists have created a system that allows you to use your smartphone for detecting earthquakes.
Not only is detecting the severity and extent of earthquakes tricky business, but it’s also difficult for first-responders to determine the amount and type of damage after a major earthquake hits. The iShake project is looking to make data collection easier by using something every smartphone has: an accelerometer. This is the part of your phone that tells your display to respond when you tilt your phone to the side, for example. The researchers started with an iPhone, and tested it by comparing its accelerometer to an actual earthquake sensor. It turned out that the iPhone could detect earthquakes at a magnitude of 5 or greater when near the epicenter. However, with smartphone technology advancing every day, the researchers believe that smartphones will soon be able to detect even smaller quakes.
Using the iShake app, the researchers hope to develop a network that can collect and send data when an earthquake occurs. The app measures the earthquake and figures out its magnitude and can also send that information to a central server so that scientists can study the data and map out the earthquake’s scope and damage.
What makes this technology so useful is that it already exists, and nearly everyone has a smartphone. However, if you’re interested in signing up, you’ll need an iPhone — the app is only currently available for iOS. Here’s hoping that Android and Windows versions are coming soon.
Via Daily Mail