Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
As the season of ghouls and goblins approaches, ghost hunters are out in force, and they come packing some pretty sophisticated tools. But you don’t need thousands of dollars worth of equipment to go on a search for unearthly presences!
Several of the tools you need are already right in your smartphone. So grab your phone, turn out the lights, and let’s get to ghost hunting.
How Do These Apps Work?
One of the most important tools of any serious ghost hunter is, conveniently, also in your iPhone: a magnetometer. This tools measures the strength of magnetic fields. Both magnetometers and EMF meters have been used by ghost hunters for years; and while no one has come across any conclusive proof that increased electrical or magnetic fields are associated with hauntings, many ghost hunters swear by them.
An important note about magnetometers: not all phones have them. For example, only the iPhone 3GS and later versions pack them. If you need to figure out whether or not your phone has one, check the specs or run a quick search online. And if your phone doesn’t have one, don’t worry! You can also use your web browser to go ghost hunting.
Another piece of equipment that’s used is a sensitive microphone that can be used to pick up electronic voice phenomena (EVP); if ghosts are trying to communicate with you, you may be able to hear their voices in the background of an electronic recording. And while you might not think that you need a special app to record the sounds in a room, ones made specifically for ghost hunting have some useful features for paranormal investigators.
There are a number of other tools that some apps incorporate, though it’s difficult to pin down what some of them do. For example, one app includes a “spatial displacement tool” that uses “powerful, and proprietary, algorithm to analyze the data presented by the system’s electro-mechanical sensor array.” What that means? I have no idea – but it sure sounds like it’ll help catch a ghost.
Magnetic and Electrical Detectors
If you’re looking for a stripped-down ghost detector, an app like iEMF [No Longer Available] is a great way to go. This free app will help you monitor fluctuations in magnetic fields that could indicate a presence with you in the room. The pro version [No Longer Available] ($0.99) offers some useful features like an ambient filter and a low-pass filter to help you make sure that what you’re seeing isn’t just background interference.
Another good EMF detector, though not specifically marketed as a ghost-hunting app, is EMF Detector ($0.99). The needle-based display gives the app a bit more of a technical feel, and because it’s not made by ghost hunters, you can be a little less skeptical that it’s giving you spurious readings in the interest of entertainment. And when you’re not ghost hunting, you can use it as a metal detector.
Many ghost-hunting apps promise to record EVP for you, but few are as focused on it as Paranormal Recorder. This app combines EMF and EVP, and will only turn on the microphone when it detects abnormal EMF patterns. This means if you’re staying in a haunted hotel, you can leave the app running all night, and you’ll probably only have to listen through a few minutes of recordings to scan for voices.
EVP-PRO, while on the expensive side for an iOS app at $3.99, is a serious EVP-seeking app that lets you easily record EVP sessions and send them to your computer for further analysis. It also contains a camera for capturing visual phenomena, and a ghost-hunting journal for you to take notes, which is a whole lot easier than fumbling with a pen and paper in the dark.
While the apps above are focused on a single type of monitoring or recording, there are a number of apps that aim to provide everything you need for investigating the paranormal with your smartphone. Ghost Hunter M2 ($0.99), for example, includes the ability to monitor EMF, EVP, audio detection, and geomagnetic fields. It also includes several other features that are described as using “complex algorithms” and a variety of sensors on your phone. If there’s a ghost out there, and your smartphone can find it, M2 will help.
Ghost Detect Pro ($0.99) similarly offers an entire toolbox of ghost-hunting functions, like EMF and EVP (with a function that will speak to you if it picks up any recognizable words), ghost “radar,” a “super sensitive” microphone, a built-in camera and photo analyzer, and even a quantum flux detector (which presumably works only with phones that contain quantum-flux-detecting hardware). The EMF also displays its readings in different colors depending on the axis in which it detects field fluctuations, giving you a more accurate idea of where to focus your search.
Get Out There!
With these iPhone apps, there’s no excuse not to get out and do some ghost-hunting—whether you’re looking for a previous occupant of your house, a presence in the university library, or malicious spirits in the local courthouse, you’ll have the tools to find them in the palm of your hand! And be sure to share your findings with us—we’d love to hear about what you see out there.
Want to skip the ghost hunting and just read some scary stories to get in the Halloween spirit? Check out some of the best scary websites to spook yourself and your friends.
Do you believe in ghosts?
Image credits: moving ghosts on the beach People walking on the beach at sunset. The movement blur makes it spooky. Duo tone (edited) via Shutterstock, Michelle Belanger via flickr, WCGAPS via flickr, Mikael Altemark via flickr, ghost in a spooky dark forest on halloween with grunge texture via Shutterstock.