As scientists look for better methods to research and prepare people for the impact of natural disasters, they may have found a solution in smartphone sensors.
Natural disasters are the almost unavoidable threat. Live in an unfortunate place and you could just see your house flooded with the city’s sewage, a lack of power causing you to eat cold food by flashlight in the dark and, in the some cases, entire homes worth of property damaged and destroyed just because of the Earth’s natural occurrences. There’s no denying the danger to public health that things such as earthquakes can cause, but as it’s much more difficult to avoid given that the danger is effectively underfoot, in most cases, the best way to protect yourself is to know about them beforehand. Scientists are now looking to capture better data on earthquakes to help those in possible danger be ready for them when they come and surprisingly, their latest breakthrough comes in the form of smartphones.
In an article in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, it’s being reported that one of the most useful ways we can detect seismic movement is via the accelerometers in our smartphones. Accelerometers are the components in smartphones that, as you might have guessed, monitors ‘proper acceleration’, and tells your phone when to rotate the screen in accordance with how you’re holding it. According to the findings, it seems that the MEMS accelerometers found in smartphones such as the iPhone, are sensitive enough to detect earthquakes when of magnitude five (or higher) if they’re at the epicentre, which can be the most dangerous place to be in a quake.
What’s key about benefits of the possible use of a smartphone to detect earthquakes is that not only could it allow for a better understanding of these events, it would also allow for a cheaper and easier reading, given that phones are small, relatively light and easy to carry, likely offering a better solution than entire seismographic equipment being carried into the field. One researcher who spoke to The Verge highlighted the usage saying that “right from the start, this technology seemed to have all the requirements for monitoring earthquakes — especially in extreme environments, like volcanoes or underwater sites.” However before they can be used to take readings, the scientists say that the accelerometers would have to modified and improved slightly in order to be entirely accurate, but that once the technology improves, smartphones would make ‘the perfect earthquake research tool’.
We’ll keep you posted once we know more.
Source: The Verge