Google to repurpose Android smartphones as earthquake detection devices!




Recently, Google announced that will turn Android devices into mini seismometers that can be used to issue a warning to other devices in the area when an earthquake has been detected.


Most smartphones include an array of sensors, one of them being an accelerometer to detect motion. This sensor will play a pivotal role in Google’s Android Earthquake Alerts System.


How will it work?

When the accelerometer detects any movement during an earthquake, it will send a signal to Google’s earthquake detection server along with the rough location information. If many phones send the signal simultaneously, the system will consider this to be a valid earthquake activity. Next, the system will issue a warning to users in the affected and surrounding areas.


The main objective is to help people living away from the epicenter to be able to protect themselves before the waves reach them.


Now, interested parties from across the globe can opt for the Android Earthquake Alerts System and use their phones as seismometers to send data to Google.


Marc Stogaitis, a principal software engineer with Android stated that the new technology will be used to share a fast and accurate view of the affected area on Google. So, when you look up “earthquake” or “earthquake near me”, you will get relevant results along with helpful resources on what to do after an earthquake.

For now, people in California will receive alerts through a partnership with the United States Geological Survey(USGS) and the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services(Cal OES). The alert is powered by ShakeAlert, as an existing early warning system that receives signals from more than 700 seismometers that are already installed across the state.


Also, according to The Verge, the android detection mechanism will work only on devices that are plugged in and not in use, limiting its effectiveness. It will be rolled out via Google Mobile Services and work in regions like China that don’t use Google’s services.

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