Smartphone app is great shakes

16 February 2016 - 02:33 By Bloomberg

A new app developed by US scientists can turn your smartphone into an earthquake sensor and potentially save lives.

Man with cellphone. File photo
Man with cellphone. File photo
Image: iStock

Researchers from the University of California at Berkeley and Deutsche Telekom AG have built an app that uses a smartphone's motion sensor to feel earthquakes.

The app, called MyShake, records the time and amplitude of a tremor and sends its data and the phone's location to Berkeley's seismological lab for analysis.

The more people use the app, the better the system will work. The goal is to create a global seismic network that will eventually warn users ahead of time of incoming jolts from far-away quakes.

"For many earthquake-prone developing countries such as Nepal or Peru, MyShake could warn potentially affected persons valuable seconds earlier and, ideally, safe lives," Deutsche Telekom said yesterday.

"These countries currently have either only a sparse ground-based seismic network or early warning system, or none at all - but do have millions of smartphone users."

A phone's motion sensor can record earthquakes above a magnitude of five within 10km.

MyShake can be downloaded free of charge fromthe Google Play store.