Accelerometer

Accelerometer

Overview

An accelerometer is a device that measures proper acceleration
Proper acceleration
In relativity theory, proper acceleration is the physical acceleration experienced by an object. It is acceleration relative to a free-fall, or inertial, observer who is momentarily at rest relative to the object being measured...

, also called the four-acceleration
Four-acceleration
In special relativity, four-acceleration is a four-vector and is defined as the change in four-velocity over the particle's proper time:whereandand \gamma_u is the Lorentz factor for the speed u...

. This is not necessarily the same as the coordinate acceleration (change of velocity of the device in three-dimensional space), but is rather the type of acceleration associated with the phenomenon of weight experienced by a test mass that resides in the frame of reference
Frame of reference
A frame of reference in physics, may refer to a coordinate system or set of axes within which to measure the position, orientation, and other properties of objects in it, or it may refer to an observational reference frame tied to the state of motion of an observer.It may also refer to both an...

 of the accelerometer device. For an example of where these types of acceleration differ, an accelerometer will measure a value when sitting on the ground, because masses there have weights, even though they do not change velocity.
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Encyclopedia

An accelerometer is a device that measures proper acceleration
Proper acceleration
In relativity theory, proper acceleration is the physical acceleration experienced by an object. It is acceleration relative to a free-fall, or inertial, observer who is momentarily at rest relative to the object being measured...

, also called the four-acceleration
Four-acceleration
In special relativity, four-acceleration is a four-vector and is defined as the change in four-velocity over the particle's proper time:whereandand \gamma_u is the Lorentz factor for the speed u...

. This is not necessarily the same as the coordinate acceleration (change of velocity of the device in three-dimensional space), but is rather the type of acceleration associated with the phenomenon of weight experienced by a test mass that resides in the frame of reference
Frame of reference
A frame of reference in physics, may refer to a coordinate system or set of axes within which to measure the position, orientation, and other properties of objects in it, or it may refer to an observational reference frame tied to the state of motion of an observer.It may also refer to both an...

 of the accelerometer device. For an example of where these types of acceleration differ, an accelerometer will measure a value when sitting on the ground, because masses there have weights, even though they do not change velocity. However, an accelerometer in gravitational free fall
Free fall
Free fall is any motion of a body where gravity is the only force acting upon it, at least initially. These conditions produce an inertial trajectory so long as gravity remains the only force. Since this definition does not specify velocity, it also applies to objects initially moving upward...

 toward the center of the Earth will measure a value of zero because, even though its speed is increasing, it is in a frame of reference
Frame of reference
A frame of reference in physics, may refer to a coordinate system or set of axes within which to measure the position, orientation, and other properties of objects in it, or it may refer to an observational reference frame tied to the state of motion of an observer.It may also refer to both an...

 in which it is weightless
Weightless
Weightless is the debut album by rap group, The Skinny Boys. It was released in 1986 for Warlock Records and was produced by Mark Bush and Chuck Chillout.- Track listing :# "Jockbox"- 4:30# "Unity"- 4:50# "Get Funky"- 3:32# "Weightless"- 4:51...

.

An accelerometer thus measures weight per unit of (test) mass, a quantity of acceleration also known as specific force, or g-force
G-force
The g-force associated with an object is its acceleration relative to free-fall. This acceleration experienced by an object is due to the vector sum of non-gravitational forces acting on an object free to move. The accelerations that are not produced by gravity are termed proper accelerations, and...

 (although it is not a force, and these quantities are badly-named). Another way of stating this is that by measuring weight, an accelerometer measures the acceleration of the free-fall reference frame (inertial reference frame) relative to itself (the accelerometer). This measurable acceleration is not the ordinary acceleration of Newton (in three dimensions), but rather four-acceleration
Four-acceleration
In special relativity, four-acceleration is a four-vector and is defined as the change in four-velocity over the particle's proper time:whereandand \gamma_u is the Lorentz factor for the speed u...

, which is acceleration away from a geodesic
Geodesic
In mathematics, a geodesic is a generalization of the notion of a "straight line" to "curved spaces". In the presence of a Riemannian metric, geodesics are defined to be the shortest path between points in the space...

 path in four-dimensional space-time.

Most accelerometers do not display the value they measure, but supply it to other devices. Real accelerometers also have practical limitations in how quickly they respond to changes in acceleration, and cannot respond to changes above a certain frequency of change.

Single- and multi-axis models of accelerometer are available to detect magnitude and direction of the proper acceleration (or g-force
G-force
The g-force associated with an object is its acceleration relative to free-fall. This acceleration experienced by an object is due to the vector sum of non-gravitational forces acting on an object free to move. The accelerations that are not produced by gravity are termed proper accelerations, and...

), as a vector quantity, and can be used to sense orientation (because direction of weight changes), coordinate acceleration (so long as it produces g-force or a change in g-force), vibration, shock
Shock indicator
A shock indicator is a mechanical device that detects and records mechanical-shocks experienced by it. It is a common practice to attach shock indicators to expensive goods, that are to be shipped. This way, the magnitude and the time of shock is recorded and ensured that the delicate and expensive...

, and falling (a case where the proper acceleration changes, since it tends toward zero). Micromachined
Microelectromechanical systems
Microelectromechanical systems is the technology of very small mechanical devices driven by electricity; it merges at the nano-scale into nanoelectromechanical systems and nanotechnology...

 accelerometers are increasingly present in portable electronic devices and video game controllers, to detect the position of the device or provide for game input.

Pairs of accelerometers extended over a region of space can be used to detect differences (gradients) in the proper accelerations of frames of reference
Frames of Reference
Frames of Reference is a 1960 educational film by Physical Sciences Study Committee.The film was made to be shown in high school physics courses. In the film University of Toronto physics professors Patterson Hume and Donald Ivey explain the distinction between inertial and nonintertial frames of...

s associated with those points. These devices are called gravity gradiometers, as they measure gradients in the gravitational field. Such pairs of accelerometers in theory may also be able to detect gravitational wave
Gravitational wave
In physics, gravitational waves are theoretical ripples in the curvature of spacetime which propagates as a wave, traveling outward from the source. Predicted to exist by Albert Einstein in 1916 on the basis of his theory of general relativity, gravitational waves theoretically transport energy as...

s.

Physical principles


An accelerometer measures proper acceleration
Proper acceleration
In relativity theory, proper acceleration is the physical acceleration experienced by an object. It is acceleration relative to a free-fall, or inertial, observer who is momentarily at rest relative to the object being measured...

, which is the acceleration it experiences relative to freefall and is the acceleration felt by people and objects. Put another way, at any point in spacetime the equivalence principle
Equivalence principle
In the physics of general relativity, the equivalence principle is any of several related concepts dealing with the equivalence of gravitational and inertial mass, and to Albert Einstein's assertion that the gravitational "force" as experienced locally while standing on a massive body is actually...

 guarantees the existence of a local inertial frame, and an accelerometer measures the acceleration relative to that frame. Such accelerations are popularly measured in terms of g-force
G-force
The g-force associated with an object is its acceleration relative to free-fall. This acceleration experienced by an object is due to the vector sum of non-gravitational forces acting on an object free to move. The accelerations that are not produced by gravity are termed proper accelerations, and...

.

An accelerometer at rest relative to the Earth's surface will indicate approximately 1 g upwards, because any point on the Earth's surface is accelerating upwards relative to the local inertial frame (the frame of a freely falling object near the surface). To obtain the acceleration due to motion with respect to the Earth, this "gravity offset" must be subtracted and corrections for effects caused by the Earth's rotation relative to the inertial frame.

The reason for the appearance of a gravitational offset is Einstein's equivalence principle
Equivalence principle
In the physics of general relativity, the equivalence principle is any of several related concepts dealing with the equivalence of gravitational and inertial mass, and to Albert Einstein's assertion that the gravitational "force" as experienced locally while standing on a massive body is actually...

, which states that the effects of gravity on an object are indistinguishable from acceleration. When held fixed in a gravitational field by, for example, applying a ground reaction force or an equivalent upward thrust, the reference frame for an accelerometer (its own casing) accelerates upwards with respect to a free-falling reference frame. The effects of this acceleration are indistinguishable from any other acceleration experienced by the instrument, so that an accelerometer cannot detect the difference between sitting in a rocket on the launch pad, and being in the same rocket in deep space while it uses its engines to accelerate at 1 g. For similar reasons, an accelerometer will read zero during any type of free fall
Free fall
Free fall is any motion of a body where gravity is the only force acting upon it, at least initially. These conditions produce an inertial trajectory so long as gravity remains the only force. Since this definition does not specify velocity, it also applies to objects initially moving upward...

. This includes use in a coasting spaceship in deep space far from any mass, a spaceship orbiting the Earth, an airplane in a parabolic "zero-g" arc, or any free-fall in vacuum. Another example is free-fall at a sufficiently high altitude that atmospheric effects can be neglected.

However this does not include a (non-free) fall in which air resistance produces drag forces that reduce the acceleration, until constant terminal velocity
Terminal velocity
In fluid dynamics an object is moving at its terminal velocity if its speed is constant due to the restraining force exerted by the fluid through which it is moving....

 is reached. At terminal velocity the accelerometer will indicate 1 g acceleration upwards. For the same reason a skydiver
Skydiver
A skydiver is a person who engages in the sport of parachuting. It may also refer to:* SkyDiver a futuristic submarine featured in the TV series UFO* "Skydiver" a carnival ride produced by Chance Morgan...

, upon reaching terminal velocity, does not feel as though he or she were in "free-fall", but rather experiences a feeling similar to being supported (at 1 g) on a "bed" of uprushing air.

Acceleration is quantified in the SI
International System of Units
The International System of Units is the modern form of the metric system and is generally a system of units of measurement devised around seven base units and the convenience of the number ten. The older metric system included several groups of units...

 unit metres per second per second
Metre per second squared
The metre per second squared is the unit of acceleration in the International System of Units . As a derived unit it is composed from the SI base units of length, the metre, and the standard unit of time, the second...

 (m/s2), in the cgs
Centimetre gram second system of units
The centimetre–gram–second system is a metric system of physical units based on centimetre as the unit of length, gram as a unit of mass, and second as a unit of time...

 unit gal (Gal), or popularly in terms of g-force
G-force
The g-force associated with an object is its acceleration relative to free-fall. This acceleration experienced by an object is due to the vector sum of non-gravitational forces acting on an object free to move. The accelerations that are not produced by gravity are termed proper accelerations, and...

 (g).

For the practical purpose of finding the acceleration of objects with respect to the Earth, such as for use in an inertial navigation system
Inertial navigation system
An inertial navigation system is a navigation aid that uses a computer, motion sensors and rotation sensors to continuously calculate via dead reckoning the position, orientation, and velocity of a moving object without the need for external references...

, a knowledge of local gravity is required. This can be obtained either by calibrating the device at rest, or from a known model of gravity at the approximate current position.

Structure


Conceptually, an accelerometer behaves as a damped mass on a spring. When the accelerometer experiences an acceleration, the mass is displaced to the point that the spring is able to accelerate the mass at the same rate as the casing. The displacement is then measured to give the acceleration.

In commercial devices, piezoelectric
Piezoelectricity
Piezoelectricity is the charge which accumulates in certain solid materials in response to applied mechanical stress. The word piezoelectricity means electricity resulting from pressure...

, piezoresistive
Piezoresistive effect
The piezoresistive effect describe the changing resistivity of a semiconductor due to applied mechanical stress. The piezoresistive effect differs from the piezoelectric effect...

 and capacitive
Capacitive sensing
In electrical engineering, capacitive sensing is a technology based on capacitive coupling that is used in many different types of sensors, including those to detect and measure: proximity, position or displacement, humidity, fluid level, and acceleration...

 components are commonly used to convert the mechanical motion into an electrical signal. Piezoelectric accelerometers rely on piezoceramics (e.g. lead zirconate titanate
Lead zirconate titanate
Lead zirconate titanate , also called PZT, is a ceramic perovskite material that shows a marked piezoelectric effect. PZT-based compounds are composed of the chemical elements lead and zirconium and the chemical compound titanate which are combined under extremely high temperatures. A filter is...

) or single crystals (e.g. quartz
Quartz
Quartz is the second-most-abundant mineral in the Earth's continental crust, after feldspar. It is made up of a continuous framework of SiO4 silicon–oxygen tetrahedra, with each oxygen being shared between two tetrahedra, giving an overall formula SiO2. There are many different varieties of quartz,...

, tourmaline
Tourmaline
Tourmaline is a crystal boron silicate mineral compounded with elements such as aluminium, iron, magnesium, sodium, lithium, or potassium. Tourmaline is classified as a semi-precious stone and the gem comes in a wide variety of colors...

). They are unmatched in terms of their upper frequency range, low packaged weight and high temperature range. Piezoresistive accelerometers are preferred in high shock applications. Capacitive accelerometers typically use a silicon micro-machined sensing element. Their performance is superior in the low frequency range and they can be operated in servo
Servomechanism
thumb|right|200px|Industrial servomotorThe grey/green cylinder is the [[Brush |brush-type]] [[DC motor]]. The black section at the bottom contains the [[Epicyclic gearing|planetary]] [[Reduction drive|reduction gear]], and the black object on top of the motor is the optical [[rotary encoder]] for...

 mode to achieve high stability and linearity.

Modern accelerometers are often small micro electro-mechanical systems (MEMS
Microelectromechanical systems
Microelectromechanical systems is the technology of very small mechanical devices driven by electricity; it merges at the nano-scale into nanoelectromechanical systems and nanotechnology...

), and are indeed the simplest MEMS devices possible, consisting of little more than a cantilever beam
Cantilever
A cantilever is a beam anchored at only one end. The beam carries the load to the support where it is resisted by moment and shear stress. Cantilever construction allows for overhanging structures without external bracing. Cantilevers can also be constructed with trusses or slabs.This is in...

 with a proof mass (also known as seismic mass). Damping results from the residual gas sealed in the device. As long as the Q-factor
Q factor
In physics and engineering the quality factor or Q factor is a dimensionless parameter that describes how under-damped an oscillator or resonator is, or equivalently, characterizes a resonator's bandwidth relative to its center frequency....

 is not too low, damping does not result in a lower sensitivity.

Under the influence of external accelerations the proof mass deflects from its neutral position. This deflection is measured in an analog or digital manner. Most commonly, the capacitance between a set of fixed beams and a set of beams attached to the proof mass is measured. This method is simple, reliable, and inexpensive. Integrating piezoresistors
Piezoresistive effect
The piezoresistive effect describe the changing resistivity of a semiconductor due to applied mechanical stress. The piezoresistive effect differs from the piezoelectric effect...

 in the springs to detect spring deformation, and thus deflection, is a good alternative, although a few more process steps are needed during the fabrication sequence. For very high sensitivities quantum tunneling is also used; this requires a dedicated process making it very expensive. Optical measurement has been demonstrated on laboratory scale.

Another, far less common, type of MEMS-based accelerometer contains a small heater at the bottom of a very small dome, which heats the air inside the dome to cause it to rise. A thermocouple on the dome determines where the heated air reaches the dome and the deflection off the center is a measure of the acceleration applied to the sensor.

Most micromechanical accelerometers operate in-plane, that is, they are designed to be sensitive only to a direction in the plane of the die
Die (manufacturing)
A die is a specialized tool used in manufacturing industries to cut or shape material using a press. Like molds, dies are generally customized to the item they are used to create...

. By integrating two devices perpendicularly on a single die a two-axis accelerometer can be made. By adding an additional out-of-plane device three axes can be measured. Such a combination always has a much lower misalignment error than three discrete models combined after packaging.

Micromechanical accelerometers are available in a wide variety of measuring ranges, reaching up to thousands of g
G-force
The g-force associated with an object is its acceleration relative to free-fall. This acceleration experienced by an object is due to the vector sum of non-gravitational forces acting on an object free to move. The accelerations that are not produced by gravity are termed proper accelerations, and...

s. The designer must make a compromise between sensitivity and the maximum acceleration that can be measured.

Engineering


Accelerometers can be used to measure vehicle acceleration. They allow for performance evaluation of both the engine/drive train and the braking systems.

Accelerometers can be used to measure vibration
Vibration
Vibration refers to mechanical oscillations about an equilibrium point. The oscillations may be periodic such as the motion of a pendulum or random such as the movement of a tire on a gravel road.Vibration is occasionally "desirable"...

 on cars, machines, buildings, process control systems and safety installations. They can also be used to measure seismic activity, inclination, machine vibration, dynamic distance and speed with or without the influence of gravity. Applications for accelerometers that measure gravity, wherein an accelerometer is specifically configured for use in gravimetry
Gravimetry
Gravimetry is the measurement of the strength of a gravitational field. Gravimetry may be used when either the magnitude of gravitational field or the properties of matter responsible for its creation are of interest...

, are called gravimeter
Gravimeter
A gravimeter or gravitometer is an instrument used in gravimetry for measuring the local gravitational field of the Earth. A gravimeter is a type of accelerometer, specialized for measuring the constant downward acceleration of gravity, which varies by about 0.5% over the surface of the Earth...

s.

Notebook computers equipped with accelerometers can contribute to the Quake-Catcher Network
Quake-Catcher Network
The Quake-Catcher Network is a joint collaborative initiative run by Stanford University and UC Riverside that aims to use computer based accelerometers to detect earthquakes...

 (QCN), a BOINC project
Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing
The Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing is an open source middleware system for volunteer and grid computing. It was originally developed to support the SETI@home project before it became useful as a platform for other distributed applications in areas as diverse as mathematics,...

 aimed at scientific research of earthquakes.

Biology


Accelerometers are also increasingly used in the biological sciences. High frequency recordings of bi-axial or tri-axial acceleration (>10 Hz) allows the discrimination of behavioral patterns while animals are out of sight. Furthermore, recordings of acceleration allow researchers to quantify the rate at which an animal is expending energy in the wild, by either determination of limb-stroke frequency or measures such as overall dynamic body acceleration Such approaches have mostly been adopted by marine scientists due to an inability to study animals in the wild using visual observations, however an increasing number of terrestrial biologists are adopting similar approaches. This device can be connected to an amplifier to amplify the signal.

Industry



Accelerometers are also used for machinery health monitoring of rotating equipment such as pump
Pump
A pump is a device used to move fluids, such as liquids, gases or slurries.A pump displaces a volume by physical or mechanical action. Pumps fall into three major groups: direct lift, displacement, and gravity pumps...

s, fans, rollers, compressor
Gas compressor
A gas compressor is a mechanical device that increases the pressure of a gas by reducing its volume.Compressors are similar to pumps: both increase the pressure on a fluid and both can transport the fluid through a pipe. As gases are compressible, the compressor also reduces the volume of a gas...

s, and cooling tower
Cooling tower
Cooling towers are heat removal devices used to transfer process waste heat to the atmosphere. Cooling towers may either use the evaporation of water to remove process heat and cool the working fluid to near the wet-bulb air temperature or in the case of closed circuit dry cooling towers rely...

s,. Vibration monitoring programs are proven to save money, reduce downtime, and improve safety in plants worldwide by detecting conditions such as shaft misalignment, rotor imbalance, gear failure or bearing fault which can lead to costly repairs. Accelerometer vibration data allows the user to monitor machines and detect these faults before the rotating equipment fails. Vibration monitoring programs are utilized in industries such as automotive manufacturing, machine tool applications, pharmaceutical production, power generation and power plants, pulp and paper, food and beverage production, water and wastewater, hydropower, petrochemical and steel manufacturing.

Building and structural monitoring


Accelerometers are used to measure the motion and vibration of a structure that is exposed to dynamic loads. Dynamic loads originate from a variety of sources including:
  • Human activities – walking, running, dancing or skipping
  • Working machines – inside a building or in the surrounding area
  • Construction work – driving piles, demolition, drilling and excavating
  • Moving loads on bridges
  • Vehicle collisions
  • Impact loads – falling debris
  • Concussion loads – internal and external explosions
  • Collapse of structural elements
  • Wind loads and wind gusts
  • Air blast pressure
  • Loss of support because of ground failure
  • Earthquakes and aftershocks


Measuring and recording how a structure responds to these inputs is critical for assessing the safety and viability of a structure. This type of monitoring is called Dynamic Monitoring.

Medical applications


Zoll's AED
Automated external defibrillator
An automated external defibrillator or AED is a portable electronic device that automatically diagnoses the potentially life threatening cardiac arrhythmias of ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia in a patient, and is able to treat them through defibrillation, the application of...

 Plus uses CPR-D•padz which contain an accelerometer to measure the depth of CPR chest compressions.

Within the last several years, Nike
Nike, Inc.
Nike, Inc. is a major publicly traded sportswear and equipment supplier based in the United States. The company is headquartered near Beaverton, Oregon, which is part of the Portland metropolitan area...

, Polar
Polar Electro
Polar Electro, or in brief Polar, is a manufacturer of advanced training computers and heart rate monitoring equipment. The company is based in Kempele, Finland. Founded in 1977, Polar introduced the world's first wireless heart rate monitor...

 and other companies have produced and marketed sports watches for runners that include footpods
Inertial footpod
An Inertial footpod is a device used to track running measurements such as speed, distance travelled, pace, etc., which would generally only be available on treadmills or with a GPS unit.This device is usually small and attaches to a runners foot...

, containing accelerometers to help determine the speed and distance for the runner wearing the unit.

In Belgium, accelerometer-based step counters are promoted by the government to encourage people to walk a few thousand steps each day.

Herman Digital Trainer uses accelerometers to measure strike force in physical training.

Navigation



An Inertial Navigation System (INS) is a navigation
Navigation
Navigation is the process of monitoring and controlling the movement of a craft or vehicle from one place to another. It is also the term of art used for the specialized knowledge used by navigators to perform navigation tasks...

 aid that uses a computer and motion sensors (accelerometers) to continuously calculate via dead reckoning
Dead reckoning
In navigation, dead reckoning is the process of calculating one's current position by using a previously determined position, or fix, and advancing that position based upon known or estimated speeds over elapsed time, and course...

 the position, orientation, and velocity
Velocity
In physics, velocity is speed in a given direction. Speed describes only how fast an object is moving, whereas velocity gives both the speed and direction of the object's motion. To have a constant velocity, an object must have a constant speed and motion in a constant direction. Constant ...

 (direction and speed of movement) of a moving object without the need for external references. Other terms used to refer to inertial navigation systems or closely related devices include inertial guidance system, inertial reference platform, and many other variations.

An accelerometer alone is unsuitable to determine changes in altitude over distances where the vertical decrease of gravity is significant, such as for aircraft and rockets. In the presence of a gravitational gradient, the calibration and data reduction process is numerically unstable.

Transport


Accelerometers are used to detect apogee in both professional and in amateur rocketry.

Accelerometers are also being used in Intelligent Compaction rollers. Accelerometers are used alongside gyroscopes in inertial guidance systems.

One of the most common uses for MEMS
Microelectromechanical systems
Microelectromechanical systems is the technology of very small mechanical devices driven by electricity; it merges at the nano-scale into nanoelectromechanical systems and nanotechnology...

 accelerometers is in airbag
Airbag
An Airbag is a vehicle safety device. It is an occupant restraint consisting of a flexible envelope designed to inflate rapidly during an automobile collision, to prevent occupants from striking interior objects such as the steering wheel or a window...

 deployment systems for modern automobiles. In this case the accelerometers are used to detect the rapid negative acceleration of the vehicle to determine when a collision has occurred and the severity of the collision. Another common automotive use is in electronic stability control
Electronic stability control
Electronic stability control is a computerized technology that may potentially improve the safety of a vehicle's stability by detecting and minimizing skids. When ESC detects loss of steering control, it automatically applies the brakes to help "steer" the vehicle where the driver intends to go...

 systems, which use a lateral accelerometer to measure cornering forces. The widespread use of accelerometers in the automotive industry has pushed their cost down
Economies of scale
Economies of scale, in microeconomics, refers to the cost advantages that an enterprise obtains due to expansion. There are factors that cause a producer’s average cost per unit to fall as the scale of output is increased. "Economies of scale" is a long run concept and refers to reductions in unit...

 dramatically. Another automotive application is the monitoring of noise, vibration and harshness (NVH), conditions that cause discomfort for drivers and passengers and may also be indicators of mechanical faults.

Tilting trains use accelerometers and gyroscopes to calculate the required tilt.

Vulcanology


Modern electronic accelerometers are used in remote sensing devices intended for the monitoring of active volcanos to detect the motion of magma
Magma
Magma is a mixture of molten rock, volatiles and solids that is found beneath the surface of the Earth, and is expected to exist on other terrestrial planets. Besides molten rock, magma may also contain suspended crystals and dissolved gas and sometimes also gas bubbles. Magma often collects in...


Consumer electronics


Accelerometers are increasingly being incorporated into personal electronic devices.

Motion input


Some smartphones, digital audio players and personal digital assistants contain accelerometers for user interface control; often the accelerometer is used to present landscape or portrait views of the device's screen, based on the way the device is being held.

Automatic Collision Notification
Advanced Automatic Collision Notification
Advanced Automatic Collision Notification is also known as Advanced Automatic Crash Notification and is the successor to Automatic Collision Notification...

 (ACN) systems also use accelerometers in a system to call for help in event of a vehicle crash. Prominent ACN systems include Onstar
OnStar
OnStar Corporation is a subsidiary of General Motors that provides subscription-based communications, in-vehicle security, hands free calling, turn-by-turn navigation, and remote diagnostics systems throughout the United States, Canada and China. A similar service is known as ChevyStar in Latin...

 AACN service, Ford Link's 911 Assist, Toyota's Safety Connect
Safety Connect
Safety Connect is a subscription-based telematics system introduced by Toyota Motor Corporation in 2009 for its Toyota-branded and Lexus models. The system provides communications, roadside assistance, car safety, remote diagnostics, and other services...

, Lexus Link
Lexus Link
Lexus Link, launched October, 2000, is a subscription-based safety and security service from Lexus. It has been offered as a factory-installed option, available on certain Lexus models , offering call-center-based telematics services to owners with equipped vehicles in the United States and Canada...

, or BMW Assist
BMW Assist
BMW Assist is a cellular based automotive roadside assistance service offered by BMW. BMW Assist is similar to GM's OnStar or Mercedes-Benz services as they both use the cellular network and Global Positioning telemetry to locate or guide the vehicle...

. Many accelerometer-equipped smartphones also have ACN software available for download. ACN systems are activated by detecting crash-strength G-forces.

Nintendo's Wii
Wii
The Wii is a home video game console released by Nintendo on November 19, 2006. As a seventh-generation console, the Wii primarily competes with Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3. Nintendo states that its console targets a broader demographic than that of the two others...

 video game console uses a controller called a Wii Remote that contains a three-axis accelerometer and was designed primarily for motion input. Users also have the option of buying an additional motion-sensitive attachment, the Nunchuk, so that motion input could be recorded from both of the user's hands independently. Is also used on the Nintendo 3DS
Nintendo 3DS
The is a portable game console produced by Nintendo. The autostereoscopic device is able to project stereoscopic 3D effects without the use of 3D glasses or any additional accessories. The Nintendo 3DS features backward compatibility with Nintendo DS series software, including Nintendo DSi software...

 system.

The Sony PlayStation 3
PlayStation 3
The is the third home video game console produced by Sony Computer Entertainment and the successor to the PlayStation 2 as part of the PlayStation series. The PlayStation 3 competes with Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Nintendo's Wii as part of the seventh generation of video game consoles...

 uses the DualShock 3 remote which uses a three axis accelerometer that can be used to make steering more realistic in racing games, such as Motorstorm
MotorStorm
MotorStorm is a 2006 racing video game developed by Evolution Studios and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the Sony PlayStation 3 computer entertainment system. First announced at E3 2005, the game was released in Japan on 14 December 2006 and the rest of the world in March 2007....

 and Burnout Paradise
Burnout Paradise
Burnout Paradise is the seventh game in the Burnout racing video game series. It was developed by Criterion Games and published by Electronic Arts. It was released in January 2008 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 and on February 5, 2009 for Microsoft Windows...

.

The Nokia 5500
Nokia 5500
Nokia 5500 Sport is one of the third edition, Nokia S60 platform mobile phones with version 9.1 of the Symbian operating system. It is not binary compatible with software compiled for earlier versions of the Symbian operating system...

 sport features a 3D accelerometer that can be accessed from software. It is used for step recognition (counting) in a sport application, and for tap gesture recognition in the user interface. Tap gestures can be used for controlling the music player and the sport application, for example to change to next song by tapping through clothing when the device is in a pocket. Other uses for accelerometer in Nokia
Nokia
Nokia Corporation is a Finnish multinational communications corporation that is headquartered in Keilaniemi, Espoo, a city neighbouring Finland's capital Helsinki...

 phones include Pedometer
Pedometer
A pedometer is a device, usually portable and electronic or electromechanical, that counts each step a person takes by detecting the motion of the person's hips...

 functionality in Nokia Sports Tracker
Nokia Sports Tracker
Nokia Sports Tracker, later Sports Tracker was originally a piece of software for Symbian Series 60 phones that allowed its user to track their route, speed, timings and energy expenditure, while engaging in a sport activity such as...

. Some other devices provide the tilt sensing feature with a cheaper component, which is not a true accelerometer.

Sleep phase alarm clock
Alarm clock
An alarm clock is a clock that is designed to make a loud sound at a specific time. The primary use of these clocks is to awaken people from their night's sleep or short naps; they are sometimes used for other reminders as well. To stop the sound, a button or handle on the clock is pressed; but...

s use accelerometric sensors to detect movement of a sleeper, so that it can wake the person when he/she is not in REM phase, therefore awakes more easily.

Orientation sensing


A number of 21st century devices use accelerometers to align the screen depending on the direction the device is held, for example switching between portrait and landscape modes. Such devices include many tablet PC
Tablet computer
A tablet computer, or simply tablet, is a complete mobile computer, larger than a mobile phone or personal digital assistant, integrated into a flat touch screen and primarily operated by touching the screen...

s and some smartphone
Smartphone
A smartphone is a high-end mobile phone built on a mobile computing platform, with more advanced computing ability and connectivity than a contemporary feature phone. The first smartphones were devices that mainly combined the functions of a personal digital assistant and a mobile phone or camera...

s and digital camera
Digital camera
A digital camera is a camera that takes video or still photographs, or both, digitally by recording images via an electronic image sensor. It is the main device used in the field of digital photography...

s.

For example, Apple uses an LIS302DL accelerometer in the iPhone
IPhone
The iPhone is a line of Internet and multimedia-enabled smartphones marketed by Apple Inc. The first iPhone was unveiled by Steve Jobs, then CEO of Apple, on January 9, 2007, and released on June 29, 2007...

, iPod Touch
IPod Touch
The iPod Touch is a portable media player, personal digital assistant, handheld game console, and Wi-Fi mobile device designed and marketed by Apple Inc. The iPod Touch adds the multi-touch graphical user interface to the iPod line...

 and the 4th and 5th generation iPod Nano
IPod nano
iPod Nano is a digital media player designed and marketed by Apple Inc.. The first generation of iPod Nano was introduced on September 7, 2005 as a replacement for iPod Mini. It uses flash memory for storage. iPod Nano has gone through six models, or generations, since its introduction...

 allowing the device to know when it is tilted on its side. Third-party developers have expanded its use with fanciful applications such as electronic bobbleheads. The BlackBerry Storm phone was also an early user of this orientation sensing feature.

The Nokia N95
Nokia N95
The Nokia N95 is a smartphone produced by Nokia as part of their Nseries line of portable devices. It was released in 2007. The N95 runs Symbian OS v9.2, with a S60 3rd Edition user interface. The phone has a two-way sliding mechanism, which can be used to access either media playback buttons or...

 and Nokia N82
Nokia N82
The Nokia N82 is a smartphone produced by Nokia. It is part of the company's Nseries line of smartphones which features the N-Gage gaming platform and the Nokia Music store...

 have accelerometers embedded inside them. It was primarily used as a tilt sensor for tagging the orientation to photos taken with the built-in camera, later thanks to a firmware update it became available to other applications.

As of January 2009, almost all new mobile phones and digital cameras contain at least a tilt sensor and sometimes an accelerometer for the purpose of auto image rotation, motion-sensitive mini-games, and to correct shake when taking photographs.

Image stabilization


Camcorders use accelerometers for image stabilization
Image stabilization
Image stabilization is a family of techniques used to reduce blurring associated with the motion of a camera during exposure. Specifically, it compensates for pan and tilt of a camera or other imaging device. It is used in image-stabilized binoculars, still and video cameras, and astronomical...

. Still cameras use accelerometers for anti-blur capturing. The camera holds off snapping the CCD "shutter" when the camera is moving. When the camera is still (if only for a millisecond, as could be the case for vibration), the CCD is "snapped". An example application which has used such technology is the Glogger VS2, a phone application which runs on Symbian OS based phone with accelerometer such as Nokia N96
Nokia N96
Nokia N96 is a Nokia smartphone in the Nseries range of products. It is the official successor to Nokia N95.The handset was publicly announced at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, February 2008, and started shipping in September 2008. Europe, Middle East and Asia-Pacific are the first locations...

. Some digital cameras, contain accelerometers to determine the orientation of the photo being taken and also for rotating the current picture when viewing.

Device integrity


Many laptops feature an accelerometer which is used to detect drops. If a drop is detected, the heads of the hard disk
Hard disk
A hard disk drive is a non-volatile, random access digital magnetic data storage device. It features rotating rigid platters on a motor-driven spindle within a protective enclosure. Data is magnetically read from and written to the platter by read/write heads that float on a film of air above the...

 are parked to avoid data loss and possible head or disk damage by the ensuing shock
Shock (mechanics)
A mechanical or physical shock is a sudden acceleration or deceleration caused, for example, by impact, drop, kick, earthquake, or explosion. Shock is a transient physical excitation....

.

Gravimetry



A gravimeter or gravitometer, is an instrument used in gravimetry
Gravimetry
Gravimetry is the measurement of the strength of a gravitational field. Gravimetry may be used when either the magnitude of gravitational field or the properties of matter responsible for its creation are of interest...

 for measuring the local gravitational field
Gravitational field
The gravitational field is a model used in physics to explain the existence of gravity. In its original concept, gravity was a force between point masses...

. A gravimeter is a type of accelerometer, except that accelerometers are susceptible to all vibration
Vibration
Vibration refers to mechanical oscillations about an equilibrium point. The oscillations may be periodic such as the motion of a pendulum or random such as the movement of a tire on a gravel road.Vibration is occasionally "desirable"...

s including noise
Noise
In common use, the word noise means any unwanted sound. In both analog and digital electronics, noise is random unwanted perturbation to a wanted signal; it is called noise as a generalisation of the acoustic noise heard when listening to a weak radio transmission with significant electrical noise...

, that cause oscillatory accelerations. This is counteracted in the gravimeter by integral vibration isolation and signal processing
Signal processing
Signal processing is an area of systems engineering, electrical engineering and applied mathematics that deals with operations on or analysis of signals, in either discrete or continuous time...

. Though the essential principle of design is the same as in accelerometers, gravimeters are typically designed to be much more sensitive than accelerometers in order to measure very tiny changes within the Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

's gravity, of 1 g
G-force
The g-force associated with an object is its acceleration relative to free-fall. This acceleration experienced by an object is due to the vector sum of non-gravitational forces acting on an object free to move. The accelerations that are not produced by gravity are termed proper accelerations, and...

. In contrast, other accelerometers are often designed to measure 1000 g or more, and many perform multi-axial measurements. The constraints on temporal resolution
Temporal resolution
Temporal resolution refers to the precision of a measurement with respect to time. Often there is a tradeoff between temporal resolution of a measurement and its spatial resolution. This trade-off can be attributed to the finite speed of light and the fact that it takes a certain period of time...

 are usually less for gravimeters, so that resolution can be increased by processing the output with a longer "time constant".

See also


  • g-force
    G-force
    The g-force associated with an object is its acceleration relative to free-fall. This acceleration experienced by an object is due to the vector sum of non-gravitational forces acting on an object free to move. The accelerations that are not produced by gravity are termed proper accelerations, and...

  • Geophone
    Geophone
    The term geophone derives from the Greek word "geo" meaning "earth" and "phone" meaning "sound".A geophone is a device which converts ground movement into voltage, which may be recorded at a recording station...

  • Gyroscope
    Gyroscope
    A gyroscope is a device for measuring or maintaining orientation, based on the principles of angular momentum. In essence, a mechanical gyroscope is a spinning wheel or disk whose axle is free to take any orientation...

  • Inertial navigation
  • Seismometer
    Seismometer
    Seismometers are instruments that measure motions of the ground, including those of seismic waves generated by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and other seismic sources...


External links