NEC to add mini earthquake sensors to its cloud-based device platform

The Japanese firm said the sensors can analyze structures when small quakes hit to estimate if they will survive the big one

NEC said Wednesday it will add small earthquake sensors to the growing set of devices that work on its cloud-based network platform.

The company said it will team up with a small Japanese firm called aLab, which has designed a networked device about the size of a home router that can detect minute acceleration in three directions. NEC will manufacture the devices and offer them as part of its Connexive platform, which exchanges data with and analyzes information from devices, appliances and automobiles.

The small devices will be mainly used in homes, corporate buildings and other structures, where several will be attached at key structural points. They will then record movements during Japan's frequent smaller earthquakes, even those that can't be felt by people, which will then be analyzed to estimate how the structures will hold up under major temblors.

NEC said that information can then be used to find weaknesses in buildings, to make maps of the safest places to take cover during a large earthquake, or to estimate the damage sustained after one has struck.

The company launched its Connexive platform in last September in Japan, and in February announced a partnership with France-based Transatel to explore services in Europe. NEC announced a radiation measurement service, including solar-powered outdoor sensors, for the platform in December.

The Japanese government has repeatedly warned of a strong chance that a major quake will strike Tokyo and the surrounding areas, and the strength of buildings is a major concern for home buyers and corporations in the country. Last year a magnitude-9 earthquake famously struck off the country's eastern coast, though far more damage and casualties were caused by the tsunamis that followed shortly after.

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