The giant technology company said that its new tool could replace traditional earthquake detection and alert devices, as it is “not really practical and it’s unlikely to have global coverage” of seismometer-based systems which are “extremely expensive” and “you need a lot of them in an area”.
Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google, is developing a new tool that could turn Android mobile phones into mini-seismographs for detecting earthquakes at any point around the globe and alerting users at the impacted location, the company announced on Tuesday.
Google’s new tool, called the Android Earthquake Alerting System, would depend on a tiny component already existing in Android phones known as an accelerometer, a sensor that measures direction and force of motion. Accelerometers were proved to have the ability to detect car crashes, earthquakes and tornadoes, according to Marc Stogaitis, principle Android software engineer at Google.
The company said that once an earthquake starts, mobile phones would send information to Google, which would examine as few as several hundred reports to make sure it’s a real earthquake before sending timely alerts to all users in the impacted area. Alerts would be issued only if the earthquake magnitude exceeds 4.5.
Smartphones would ring loudly for up to one minute and display instructions telling users to “drop, cover, and hold on before the shaking arrives” in addition to post-quake safety instructions. Alert time and instructions would vary according to the distance from the epicenter.
Google said there would be no need to download an app to receive earthquake alerts.
The technology company said that it would start testing the Android Earthquake Alerting System in California, US, and would make it available in other parts of the world as soon as possible.
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