Google turning smartphones into earthquake detectors

Google turning smartphones into earthquake detectors

Google launched an earthquake alert system in California, saying it is working on letting Android-powered smartphones double as tremor detectors.

The new "ShakeAlert" system, created in collaboration with the US Geological Survey, uses signals from hundreds of seismometers across the state to trigger warnings sent to people's Android phones.

"We saw an opportunity to use Android to provide people with timely, helpful earthquake information when they search, as well as a few seconds warning to get themselves and their loved ones to safety if needed," principal software engineer Marc Stogaitis said in a blog post.

People anywhere with smartphones powered by Google's Android operating software were also invited to let handsets be part of a crowd-sourced network for detecting earthquakes.

Smartphones are typically equipped with tiny accelerometers that sense movement and can catch shaking caused by earthquakes, according to Stogaitis.

"This means your Android phone can be a mini seismometer, joining millions of other Android phones out there to form the world’s largest earthquake detection network," the AFP cited him as saying..

Android phones that detect what might be earthquake activity can automatically send a signal to a data center, where computers quickly interpret motion and location data in aggregate to determine whether a quake is happening, according to Google.