Our phones are used for a lot of applications, but this latest one from Google is quite interesting. As part of a set of features designed to give Android phone users valuable extra seconds before an earthquake hits, the company has essentially turned your smartphone into a mini seismograph.

Google will send out notifications to Android phone users about an impending earthquake hits, with the feature rolling out in the American state of California in particular.

Given that not all of its Android users reside in California, however, or indeed have access to the necessary equipment where they live, Google is making it possible for a network of connected Android phones to work as an early detection system.

“Installing a ground network of seismometers, as California has done, may not be feasible in all impacted areas around the world. So we’re using the reach of Android’s platform to help detect earthquakes,” explains Marc Stogaitis, principal software engineer at Android, about the project in a blog post.

“Starting today, your Android phone can be part of the Android Earthquake Alerts System, wherever you live in the world. This means your Android phone can be a mini seismometer, joining millions of other Android phones out there to form the world’s largest earthquake detection network,” he adds.

This system will work off of the accelerometer found in most modern smartphones these days in order to send information to a Google-specific earthquake server, which is provided your rough location data should any tremors be experienced. Collecting data from other devices in the same area, it will then determine in an earthquake is indeed eminent.

This innovative use of smartphone hardware is rolling out in California today for Android users, with it expected to be available in other regions over the coming weeks and months, but precise rollout per country is not known at this stage.

Either way, it is a great use of consumer technology.