A new app released by scientists from University of California, Berkeley attempts to use smartphones as sensors for earthquakes, and the resulting recorded data can be used later to provide early earthquake warnings. The app is called “MyShake” and it is free to download off the Google Play Store. The scientists hope that a lot of people will download the app so that more data can be collected.

For now, the app collects information from your smartphone’s onboard accelerometer sensors. The app then analyzes the data if it fits the vibrational profile of an earthquake, and if it does, relays it and the phone’s GPS coordinates to the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory. The app runs in the background using very little power.

“MyShake cannot replace traditional seismic networks like those run by the U.S. Geological Survey, UC Berkeley, the University of Washington and Caltech,” says Richard Allen, leader of the app project, director of the Berkeley Seismological Laboratory and a professor and chair of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. “But we think MyShake can make earthquake early warning faster and more accurate in areas that have a traditional seismic network, and can provide life-saving early warning in countries that have no seismic network.”


The idea is, once a lot more people are using the app and the bugs are worked out, that UC Berkeley seismologists can use the data to warn people away from ground zero that an earthquake may soon head their way. Even precious tens of seconds in warning can help save lives. The developers of the app are planning an iOS version of the app as well. Download the app via the source link below.