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Earthquake-Sensing Mobile App 'MyShake' Detects Over 200 Earthquakes Large and Small (techcrunch.com) 25

Back in February, researchers at UC Berkeley released an app called MyShake that detects strong earthquakes seconds before the damaging seismic waves arrive. Several months have passed since its release and app has already detected over 200 earthquakes in more than ten countries. TechCrunch reports: The app has received nearly 200,000 downloads, though only a fraction of those are active at any given time; it waits for the phone to sit idle so it can get good readings. Nevertheless, over the first six months the network of sensors has proven quite effective. "We found that MyShake could detect large earthquakes, but also small ones, which we never thought would be possible," one of the app's creators, Qingkai Kong, told New Scientist. A paper describing the early results was published in Geophysical Research Letters -- the abstract gives a general idea of the app's success: "On a typical day about 8000 phones provide acceleration waveform data to the MyShake archive. The on-phone app can detect and trigger on P waves and is capable of recording magnitude 2.5 and larger events. The largest number of waveforms from a single earthquake to date comes from the M5.2 Borrego Springs earthquake in Southern California, for which MyShake collected 103 useful three-component waveforms. The network continues to grow with new downloads from the Google Play store everyday and expands rapidly when public interest in earthquakes peaks such as during an earthquake sequence." You can download the app for Android here.
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Earthquake-Sensing Mobile App 'MyShake' Detects Over 200 Earthquakes Large and Small

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  • How cool! OTOH, before they became ubiquitous:

    If your friendly neighborhood government had forced a tracking device (with the ability to monitor most communications) upon each of us,

    we'd have pitched a wall-eyed fit.

  • I'm guessing this app will be popular in New Zealand [geonet.org.nz] right now
  • by jtara ( 133429 ) on Thursday December 01, 2016 @07:15PM (#53405205)

    Yes, some are quite sensitive. I did some experiments with an iPhone 5S, wanting to detect respiration. Was surprised that it also clearly picked up heartbeat. It works best with the phone laying on your stomach while laying on your back. It takes some filtering to get a clear signal, but iOS (and I presume Android) has the necessary signal processing APIs to clean it up.

    Please don't try this while asleep and unmonitored, and certainly not with a Samsung!

    • With the phone on your belly, i assume you'll measure the pressure wave through the abdominal aorta.

      For the heart, i would suggest a specific spot on the thoracic wall, where an "Ictus Cordis'" can be felt.
      (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apex_beat)

  • Each user would have the phone situated on different surfaces with different resonances, which I presume would lead to different readings and waveforms. Sounds like a neat app but I wonder how useful the data is for actual scientific use.
    • "Each user would have the phone situated on different surfaces with different resonances, which I presume would lead to different readings and waveforms."

      Sure, but if you combine a couple of thousand readings from roughly the same location, it will give you a pretty exact picture. That way you can eliminate trucks, metro or other sources of data pollution.

      • "Each user would have the phone situated on different surfaces with different resonances, which I presume would lead to different readings and waveforms."

        Sure, but if you combine a couple of thousand readings from roughly the same location, it will give you a pretty exact picture. That way you can eliminate trucks, metro or other sources of data pollution.

        So this is how the next sci fi movie tracks the truck with the cargo: Lets zoom in, in impossible sharpen mode, oh, look they have the app running, quick, track the truck by sieving all the data from the app in that city and plotting the truck travel. This is kinda how massive detectors at places like LHC work on sub atomic particles to track in detectors like ATLAS; so it isn't too much of a stretch to scale it to macro.

  • by tsa ( 15680 )

    Does it detect earthquakes when the phone's vibrator goes off?

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