Researchers from Stanford and the University of California, Riverside are working to harness the power of accelerometers to build a seismic detecting network out of ordinary computers. Accelerometers detect movement and are increasingly being used in devices such as iPhones to flip from vertical to horizontal and Wii controllers. Many of today’s laptop computers already have accelerometers installed, and thanks to their high use they are a low-cost (under $50) item to add if the computer doesn’t have one.
The idea is to have a geographically distributed network of computers, and one or more computer in large buildings, that each send readings automatically to a central database. The amount of data that would be collected would far surpass what’s available today. The network is coming together now as the Quake Catchers Network, with more than a thousand computers already signed on.
Read more about this concept in this feature from the Los Angeles Times.