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New Zealand student develops low-cost earthquake sensor


Earthquake damage in Christchurch, NZ following a powerful earthquake in September, 2010 (courtesy: Martin Luff)
Earthquake damage in Christchurch, NZ following a powerful earthquake in September, 2010 (courtesy: Martin Luff)

Cheryl Santa Maria, staff writer

November 24, 2012 — A student at New Zealand's Victoria University is developing a wireless sensor that monitors the damage inflicted on buildings during an earthquake.

A wireless sensor developed in New Zealand could provide a cost-effective solution to monitoring building damage caused by an earthquake.

Developed by Daniel Tomicek, a fourth year Electronic and Computer Systems Engineering student, the device runs off the energy created by a quake -- unlike traditional sensors, which run on batteries or electricity.

When the device picks up movement, it records the strength of the vibration and sends the information to an off-site computer.

“The biggest challenge has been figuring out how to make the sensor work from a cold start—how to ensure the initial packet of information was sent, given that earthquake movements begin so suddenly,” Daniel said in a statement.

While his device is still in the testing phase, the results have been promising.

Some experts are calling the product a potential "step forward" for earthquake assessment. 

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