Earthquakes aren’t that scary until you live through one, no matter how mild it is. MyShake is an app developed at the University of California at Berkeley that aims to add a social component to detecting and broadcasting seismic movements around the world. It does this by using the mass vibration signals sent by smartphone gyroscopes, and can detect the type of earthquake, its magnitude, and geographic area.


The success of MyShake is thus fully dependent on how many people use it, as its information depends on the information they can provide others. The trick to this is obvious: if a certain number of devices in a certain geographic area send out the same kind of vibration captured by the gyroscope, the app can make an estimate of the characteristics of the earthquake. The more users it has, the more precise the measure.

The app lets you view the earthquakes captured in recent hours worldwide based on the information obtained and display it on a world map alongside its Richter scale rating. All this infrastructure becomes much more important when it comes to detecting seismographic activity in places where there’s no communications network to distribute that information to the population. In these circumstances, a few seconds can make the difference between life and death in extreme cases.


Besides this, the app includes a small manual with tips on what to do during an earthquake, as well as a measuring sensor that displays a real-time graphic of the magnitude of the detected movement.


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