Turn your smartphone into an earthquake detector

MyShake Earthquake Detecting App

A new app developed by researchers from the University of California at Berkeley and Deutsche Telekom AG uses a smartphone’s motion sensor to detect and report earthquakes.

MyShake records the time and amplitude of a tremor and sends its data and the phone’s location to Berkeley’s seismological lab for analysis.

The idea is that as more users download the app, it will send more data, allowing for better predictive models and warnings systems to be implemented.

The goal is to create a global seismic network —  a collective seismograph — that will eventually warn users ahead of earthquakes that started a short distance from their current location.

“For many earthquake-prone developing countries such as Nepal or Peru, MyShake could warn potentially affected persons valuable seconds earlier and, ideally, safe lives,” Deutsche Telekom said in a statement Monday.

“These countries currently have either only a sparse ground-based seismic network or early warning system, or none at all — but do have millions of smartphone users.”

A phone’s accelerometer can record earthquakes above a magnitude of 5 within 6.2 miles.

MyShake can be downloaded for free from Google’s Play store, and an iPhone app is also in the works, Deutsche Telekom said.