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The New ‘MyShake’ Android App Can Detect Earthquakes

Scientists from the University of California Berkeley launched a smartphone app that identifies the intensity and location of earthquakes. Android phone users can now download and install this app through Google Play for free.

Tremor Detector App

myshake appThe MyShake app uses accelerometers – sensors of the phone – to detect movement or tremors in the ground. This app only runs in the background of a smartphone and it does not use a lot of power. If there is shaking that matches the tremor profile of an earthquake, MyShake app sends this gathered information to a central system that confirms the magnitude and location of the earthquake.

The app also provides smartphone users with information about recent earthquakes across the globe, as well as data on some of the history’s most devastating earthquake tragedies.

Much Like a Fitness App

The Myshake design was derived from popular fitness apps today. Fitness apps for smartphones utilize accelerometers to determine specific changes in the user’s motion, such as the number of steps they take while walking. Accelerometers are devices that measure forces associated with acceleration, such as movement, tilt and vibration. All smartphones have built-in accelerometers, allowing the phone to adjust visual displays depending on the direction it is facing.

The scientists from UC Berkeley recognize the potential of accelerometers to detect tremors from the ground during earthquakes. They designed an earthquake’s vibration profile that serves as a standard tremor profile, allowing the app to distinguish an earthquake from “everyday shaking”.

The App’s End Goal

myshake applicationWith the information that this app gathers, the scientists from UC Berkeley hope that they could create a solid network in the future that could provide warnings prior to earthquakes. This data will also be useful in further studies to estimate the shaking magnitude and length of time it takes before an earthquake arrives at a specific location.

“This is an app that provides information, education, and motivation – to the people who’ve downloaded it – to get ready for earthquakes. Those same people are contributing to our further understanding of earthquakes, because they’re collecting data that will help us better understand the earthquake process,” said Richard Allen, director of the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory.

According to the 2015 Ericsson Mobility Report, there are 2.6 billion smartphone users around the world today. The report anticipates that smartphone users will reach 6 billion by 2020. A huge global network of handheld earthquake detectors will, therefore, be beneficial to people’s safety, as well as to improving earthquake response in the future.

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