Q: Can You Use a Smartphone for Paranormal Investigation?
Yes. Expanding storage capacity, micro-processing power and a growing array of expert applications, now enable smartphones to support all phases of paranormal investigation. Since paranormal investigation involves a search for explanations and not just for ghosts, this survey excludes ghost hunting apps that provide questionable evidence in favor of those that observe and measure the environment.
Smartphones have Internet connectivity which can assist with researching, compiling and archiving information. You can perform online historical and genealogical research using the smartphone’s web browser, much as you would on your PC. If using a leading reference, usually a tailored application will be available, such as Ancestry.com. Skype and other VoIP services can host long-distance interviews or conference calls with clients. Virtual private network platforms provide a secure and mobile-accessible forum for planning and discussing paranormal investigation projects. Cloud-based storage platforms with mobile connectivity can provide instant access to a case investigation plan or other files of interest.
This is an area where smartphones are growing in potential. No survey can comprehensively address the ever expanding menu of smartphone applications. As progress is made in flashing conventional operating systems to smartphones, the range of available applications is perhaps set to exponentially expand. Here are some ways a smartphone can assist a paranormal investigation.
- IMAGING: Smartphone cameras can be used to gather a basic photographic or video record of the investigation. Over recent years smartphone cameras have been improving in image resolution making them nearly suitable for evidence collection. However, enduring problems for these cameras are limited focal lengths and a flash that is located close to the lens. Hence, smartphone cameras routinely produce image artifacts such as orbs or flying rods that are mistakenly perceived as paranormal. The availability of affordable thermal imaging accessories has been an exciting development. When such devices are used as designed they can locate sources of drafts or electrical wiring in a home.
- AUDIO: Smartphone microphones, like any other condenser type microphones, are capable of capturing electronic voice phenomena (EVP). However, the audio collected will be of lower quality. Hence, built-in microphones on smartphones are perhaps best-suited for recording personal notes about the investigation. Professional grade microphone attachments with greater dynamic ranges, such as the ZOOM IQ, would be more suitable for paranormal investigation. Some applications, like AndroSpec, provide a spectral analysis graph of audio in real time. One novel app works in conjunction with an induction sensor/antenna, which plugs in the smartphone microphone jack, that can detect and visualize electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in audio frequency ranges.
- DATA: There are several smartphone applications capable of baselining the environment, such as ambient temperature. Applications such as Smart Tools, leverage the phone’s accelerometer to powerful effect for measuring distances and vibration.
Most smartphones contain magnetometers that are used for direction finding and are designed for detection of natural versus household electromagnetic fields. Smartphones are also optimized for microwave/line-of-sight signals. Since smartphones internally generate EMFs a industrial meter is perhaps better suited for EMF detection. Smartphones should be set to modes that minimize radiofrequency interference with other equipment.
Audio quality is improving in the latest generations of smartphones making them suitable alternatives to MP3 players. There are a host of quality smartphone audio apps, like RecForge. Preferably the audio app should allow for adjustments in sampling rates (such as above CD sound quality) and save in a variety of formats (*.wav or *.mp3). EVP are the predominant form of evidence requiring extended audio analysis to obtain. With high quality earphones, it is no longer necessary to perform audio analysis of EVP on a PC.
Depending on investigator preferences for revealing evidence, many capabilities for case planning and preparation can be re-utilized here. A quality portable speaker can be attached to the smartphone’s headphone jack for EVP playback and presentation. Video can be easily transmitted to television screens or projectors through wired and/or wireless means depending on smartphone features and accessories. Media are easily transferable to offline or cloud storage. For some social media channels like Instagram or Vine, a smartphone is essential for staging and sharing findings.
If a preliminary or impromptu sweep of a haunted location is required, consider using a smartphone. As long as aforementioned limitations are kept in mind, a smartphone can be a indispensable investigation tool.
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