Press release from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security:
Laptops may assist in detecting earthquake vibrations
(INDIANAPOLIS, January 3, 2011) – Some newer laptops may have the ability to detect vibrations from an earthquake. Many newer laptops, like those from Apple and Lenovo, come equipped with accelerometers, which are motion sensors, to detect when a unit has been dropped and brace hardware for impact.
By adding seismograph software to a computer with an accelerometer, such as the Quake-Catcher Network developed by Stanford University, users can collect vibration data and send it to a world-wide database of other users to help detect earthquakes more quickly in areas without professional-grade seismometers. Information on this software can be found at.
If your laptop or computer does not come equipped with an accelerometer, a USB-connected accelerometer can be used to provide the same ability to use seismograph software.
For more information about earthquake preparedness, visit the IDHS preparedness page at www.in.gov/dhs/getprepared.