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App may make your phone an earthquake detector

By Yuan Can (People's Daily Online)    17:20, February 16, 2016

A newly launched app can serve as a data collector that will use a phone's accelerometer to record shaking, according to a report in China's scientific newspaper.

Scientists at the University of California in Berkeley released MyShake app (available for Android phones) that 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.

The app only collects information from the accelerometers, analyzes it and, if it fits the vibrational profile of a quake, relays it and the phone’s GPS coordinates to the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory for analysis, according to official website of UC Berkley.

The app has been programmed to know the difference between normal activity and the rumblings of an earthquake.

The developers have found that the app is 93 percent accurate in knowing the difference between earthquake motion and other activity. "So basically it monitors the motions of the phone, and it detects whether this motion is due to earthquake or some human activities," said MyShake co-developer Qingkai Kong.

MyShake can turn your phone into a seismometer, recording magnitude 5 earthquakes at distances of 10 km or less. Richard Allen, the leader of the app project, director of the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory and a professor and chair of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences said simulations suggest they will need 300 users in a 1,000 square kilometer area to get good data from that quake.

A major goal for developers is to provide location-specific warnings in which the phone can determine how long it will take before the shaking is going to begin in your area.

Allen said the target is 40 seconds of lead time.

The developers hope to add a feature that alerts the user to impending quakes in their area.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Yuan Can,Bianji)

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