This is rather interesting. As you may know, most hard drives include accelerometers for the purpose of determining the drive’s orientation and movement, so that (presumably) the drive head can compensate for it. Seismographers have used distributed networks on laptops for this purpose before, but it seems that the data from laptops is just too unreliable.
Fortunately, there’s another huge set of unused accelerometers just waiting to be tapped: the server racks dotting every city.
IBM is looking into equipping these server racks with small programs that would monitor the accelerometers built into their drives. Since the servers don’t move much and their positions and orientations are static, the data they produce is much easier to sift through.
Right now IBM is working out the details, and hopes to roll out the system on their own datacenters in a few months, after which time they’ll try to convince others to put it on their servers as well. Sounds like a win-win situation to me.