IBM Uses Computer Hard Drives to Predict Earthquakes & Tsunamis

IBM has now developed an earthquake- and tsunami-tracking system using the sensors in your computer that could really save lives.

This breakthrough could especially help in the case of tsunamis, since the information can travel fast enough to give people time to get out of a dangerous situation, but it can also be of great help in earthquakes. With the system IBM has developed, first responders can be notified of an emergency more quickly and can also be more quickly directed to strongly hit areas.

“It tells them I need to worry about this school I don’t need to worry about this bridge,” Bob Friedlander, a master inventor for IBM, said in the video below. “They can focus their efforts, their energies and their resources to do the most good.”

On how the system works, PCMag reports:

The patent and technology uses the sensor in your laptop’s hard disk to detect seismic vibration, and to communicate the data back up to the Internet, at faster speeds than the earthquake can travel. Hard drives have contained these sensors since about 2004, fixing the read-write head in place to prevent scratching the disc media in case the laptop is jiggled or actually falls.

IBM applied for the patent for this system back in April 2007 and was awarded it in April of this year.

“Following rapid analysis of the hard drive data, it can be determined exactly when a seismic event started, how long a seismic event lasted, the intensity of a seismic event, the frequency of motion of a seismic event, direction of motion of a seismic event, etc,” IBM said in a statement on the system. “The information is then delivered to decision makers for action, including the emergency response representatives, such as police, firefighters, the Federal Emergency Management Agency or other service providers.”

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Photo Credit: hugvk via flickr (CC license)

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