Google Converts Your Android Smartphone To Earthquake Detectors; Here’s How It Works


The uses of a smartphone are multifold. Google is working on making it even better with a new feature. The company has brought in an earthquake alert system that also works as a tremor detector for Android smartphones. The feature warns users by a 'ShakeAlert', which is an early earthquake warning developed by the US Geological Survey and partners.

Google Converts Your Android Smartphone To Earthquake Detectors

"We saw an opportunity to use Android to provide people with timely, helpful earthquake information when they search," said Google in a blog post. Google allowed Android smartphone users to be part of the crowd-sourced network to detect earthquakes. The new earthquake warning system is currently embedded in Android smartphones in California.

Google Earthquake Warning System: How Does It Work?

The ShakeAlert on the new warning system uses signals from hundreds of seismometers across the state to trigger warning messages that "an earthquake has begun and shaking is imminent". Smartphones already have tiny accelerometers that sense movement and can detect the shaking caused by earthquakes, Google explained.

In other words, "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." Once an earthquake shaking is detected, the Android smartphone automatically sends a signal to the data center, which in turn interprets motion and the location data to determine the details.

"We're essentially racing the speed of light -- which is roughly the speed at which signals from a phone travel -- against the speed of an earthquake," the blog post notes. Luckily, the speed of light is much faster than the earthquake vibrations.

How Will This Help?

Earthquakes are one of the biggest natural calamities that rock frequently across the globe. States like Califonia are earthquake-prone, which makes it the best testing ground as there are already seismometers in place. The move will certainly help people to move to a safer place when a warning is issued. Google says its planning to spread the earthquake warning system to other locations soon.

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