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Vibrations from a smartphone can help us spot unsafe drinking water

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A smartphone’s motion sensor could help identify contaminated water

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The vibrations from an iPhone’s ringtone can be used to measure the viscosity of a liquid, which could allow it to detect whether water is polluted or to test for kidney conditions and pregnancy by measuring the levels of protein or hormones in urine.

Yandao Huang at Shenzhen University in China and his colleagues built a 3D-printed cup with a mount on the outside designed to securely hold an iPhone 7. They then used the phone’s vibrating motor to agitate dozens of types of liquids inside the …