6.28.2007

Web Appliance Warns of Earthquakes 20 Seconds in Advance
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SunShine, a Japanese company has created a home appliance the size of a paperback novel that can warn of earthquakes seconds before they strike. (Certainly the most interesting appliance since the Hello Kitty toaster that leaves a cute image of Hello Kitty on your bread.)

Using the early-warning system network and data provided by the Japan Meteorological Agency via the Internet, the appliance sounds off a loud countdown of up to 20 seconds before the moment the tremor begins.

Security firm SunShine says this should give people enough time to hide under tables, turn off gas and fire sources, or even just to move away from potentially dangerous furniture.

Starting in October, the JMA warnings will also be broadcast on television and radio, and sent to mobile phones equipped to receive them, which will go on sale later this year.

But the company hopes that its EQGuard, which will also be available in October, will help people who just happened not to be watching television.

"There are 51 million households in Japan, and we expect this system to catch on with at least 20 percent of the households," said Kazuo Sasaki, SunShine's president.

Japan accounts for about 20 percent of the world's earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater.

The appliance sends alerts, once it detects primary waves, or the first waves of an earthquake that do not cause major rattling but travel faster than the secondary waves that are responsible for the actual shaking.

The alerts could precede the shaking by 10 to 20 seconds, though the period would be much shorter--and in some cases absent--if the tremor's center is near.

Read more (CNET)

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