Trying to anticipate events by predicting when they will occur has been a task carried out by man for centuries through different methods. Some such as rain or snow have been phenomena easy to predict with current technologies. Others such as earthquakes not so much due to the complexity that this natural event presents in its behavior.
However, a high school student from Southern California has managed to develop a low cost seismometer which has the ability to issue early earthquake warnings for homes and businesses, all for less than $ 100.
Vivien He, creator of the device, hopes that her invention will in the future become part of the home security system, in the same way as smart smoke detectors.
In terms of appearance, the seismometer is about the size of a Rubik’s cube, featuring a clear acrylic coating. Also, this device has a geophone that detects the movement of the ground, generating electrical signals in digital wave form that are translated by the hardware and software integrated in the seismometer.
Since September 2020, when it has been put into operation, the seismometer has managed to detect all those earthquakes of magnitude greater than 3.0 that have occurred in the surroundings of the city of Los Angeles.
When the magnitude of the earthquake exceeds the alert threshold set by the user, the device activates the on-board alarm to generate an on-site notification. Also, the seismometer can send a text message to local subscribers of the regional alert service and be controlled from the smartphone.
The 2021 annual meeting of the Seismological Society of the United States (SSA) was the scene where Vivien presented her research on the device, managing to obtain a student travel scholarship from the SSA, being, in addition, the only high school level of education to be invited to attend the conference for free.
The research, design, construction and testing phases of the device were carried out by Vivien during the summer and fall while she was locked up at home due to COVID-19 restrictions.