SMALL sensors found in most smartphones and laptops are sensitive enough to detect the movement of moderate and large earthquakes, and could vastly expand the information gathered during seismic events in densely populated cities, new research suggests.
The devices, called micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS) accelerometers, measure movement in three dimensions and tell the phone’s screen to flip from horizontal to vertical when the phone tilts. In laptops, they detect the motion of falling, and force the hard drive into a safe mode prior to impact.
Given the widespread use of laptops and smartphones containing these devices, researchers at Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology decided to test whether the sensors could adequately record earthquake movements.
“Theoretically, any device connected to the Internet with an internal MEMS accelerometer, such as a computer or mobile phone, can become a strong-motion seismic station, and that could be easily used to enormously increase the number of observation points when an earthquake occurs,” said study co-author Antonino D’Alessandro.
Source: Live Science