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Vibrations From a Smartphone Can Help Spot Unsafe Drinking Water


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Water drops on a smartphone.

Researchers at Shenzhen University in China found that the motion sensor built into smartphones can measure friction between liquid molecules by detecting reflected motion waves.

Credit: dcphoto/Alamy

Vibrations from a smartphone's ringtone can be used to measure a liquid's viscosity, according to researchers at China's Shenzhen University.

Shenzhen's Yandao Huang and colleagues designed a three-dimensionally-printed drinking cup with an external mount for an iPhone 7, and used the handset's vibrating motor to agitate liquids within the cup; the handset’s built-in motion sensor quantified the friction between the liquid molecules by detecting reflected motion waves.

Using the cup and iPhone, the team was able differentiate between 30 types of liquid with more than 95% average accuracy.

The phone could distinguish between liquids containing bacteria, dirt, or minerals through changes to viscosity, and differentiated between tap water, rain water, puddle water, and water with prolonged exposure to air, with an error rate of just 2.5%.

Huang said the study’s results could lead to a simple test for measuring the safety of drinking water.

From New Scientist
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Abstracts Copyright © 2021 SmithBucklin, Washington, DC, USA

 


 

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