I thought it is worth mentioning a cool new iPhone application that some bright graduate students at Stevens Institute/Hoboken have developed to work in earthquake situations and save human lives. The main functionality of this app is that it has the capability to transmit messages even without a cellular service!
At the most simplistic level, the way it works is that you type in a text message and then the application transmits the message through a series of waves or signals that are detected by a sensitive microphone or seismic detector. Leveraging Percussive pulses, the messages get transmitted. Most helpful for saving human lives in an earthquake situation where there is usual loss of cell phone service and yet the immediate need to save human lives.
This application that is basically the outcome of a research project and has been made available free by the project team at the iPhone appstore. Personally, I am proud to share this achievement of the project team as it is coming from my alma-mater. Check out the details at http://www.rescuemephone.com/