UC Berkeley scientists released a free Android app that taps a smartphone’s ability to record ground shaking from an earthquake, with the goal of creating a worldwide seismic detection network that could eventually warn users of impending jolts from nearby quakes. The app, called MyShake, is available from the Google Play Store and runs in the background with little power, so that a phone’s onboard accelerometers can record local shaking any time of the day or night.

For now, the app only collects information from the accelerometers, analyzes it and, if it fits the vibrational profile of a quake, relays it and the phone’s GPS coordinates to the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory for analysis. Once enough people are using it and the bugs are worked out, UC Berkeley seismologists plan to use the data to warn people miles from ground zero that shaking is rumbling their way. An iPhone app is also planned.

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