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New generation of laptops made by Apple and Lenovo are coming with low cost accelerometers device, a motion detector capable of identifying whether the mobile computer being handled with care or not. The accelerometers are capable to trigger automatic hard drive shut down to protect user’s data.
The existence of these accelerometers are being viewed as a hidden opportunity and bless in disguised by geoscientist from University of California at Riverside – Elizabeth Cochran.
“As soon as I knew there were these low-cost sensors inside these accelerometers, I thought it would be perfect to use them to network together and actually record earthquakes,” says Elizabeth Cochran.
Simply by downloading a free program called Quake-Catcher Network, you and your Apple or Lenovo laptop could assist researchers to pinpoint earthquakes and even detect an early warning for surrounding areas.
The Quake-Catcher Network is a collaboration of brilliant works between Elizabeth Cochran and her Stanford colleague Jesse Lawrence. Basically, the application runs silently in the background, collecting data from the computer’s accelerometer and waiting to detect an earthquake.
Laptop accelerometers aren’t as sensitive as professional-grade seismometers, so they can only pick up tremors of about magnitude 4.0 and above. But when a laptop does sense a tremor, it’ll ping the researchers’ server. “And when our server receives a bunch of those, we then say, ‘This is a likely earthquake,’ ” Lawrence says.
Until now, there are only about a thousand people across the world have the software installed on their computers. The goal is to grow that number to 10,000 in California alone. They’re beefing up the numbers by making external USB-connected accelerometers available to people who don’t have them built in to their computers — and installing those in schools as part of an educational program.
And hopefully with more monitoring stations popping up around the world, it will help to gather a finer idea how exactly earthquakes unfold. In this way you could also help to provide advance alert to your surrounding areas, saving more life and reduce unwanted tragedy.
If you have an Apple or Lenovo’s laptop with accelerometer, would you mind joining those on Quake-Catcher Network?
[ Source: Inhabitat ; Stanford University ; NPR ]
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