Google and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) developed an early earthquake warning system using everyday cell phones. Using Google's accelerometers built into most smartphones, typically used for taking portrait or landscape photos, can detect when there are tremors just seconds before they hit. The phones alert seconds before an earthquake hits, which could mean the difference being able to shelter or not. "We’re essentially racing the speed of light (which is roughly the speed at which signals from a phone travel) against the speed of an earthquake," says Marc Stogaitis, a software engineer at Android. "And lucky for us, the speed of light is much faster!"

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