What is an Accelerometer and how it Works

Ever wondered how your smartphone automatically switches from portrait to landscape as you tilt it, able to point out the direction in which your smartphone’s compass points?

Ever questioned how the Health & Fitness apps of your smartphone are able to count the number of steps that you have taken while walking?

Accelerometer Blog - Featured image Guruface

Your smartphone is integrated with a tiny accelerometer sensor that can identify orientation/direction. Your smartphone uses this information to decide when to change the screen’s orientation from portrait to landscape or which direction your phone’s compass is pointing towards. Earlier, we published a post about IR sensors and its working principle which gained much acclamation among our readers.

Table of Contents

Before learning about accelerometers, we need to understand what acceleration is and what factors that lead to changes in acceleration.

What is Acceleration?

Anything that causes a change in velocity is referred to as acceleration. There are only two ways to accelerate: changing your speed or changing your direction. You can also change both because velocity is both a speed and a direction.

Accelerometer Guruface blog - Graphic 1
Accelerometer blog - Graphic 2 - Explaining acceleration - Guruface

What is an accelerometer?

A device that detects accelerations and vibrations is known as an accelerometer. As we know, the change in velocity brought on by a body’s motion is known as acceleration. The vibrations produced by the body are absorbed by an accelerometer sensor, which uses them to determine the direction of the body.

What is an accelerometer - Guruface Blog

How does an Accelerometer work?

An accelerometer is a device that can be used in both analog and digital electronics. The accelerometer’s main mode of operation is the transformation of mechanical energy into electrical energy. Internally, accelerometers have capacitive plates. Some of these are fixed, while others are fastened to tiny springs that move within the sensor as acceleration forces are applied to it.

Due to the force which is caused by vibration or motion, the mass squeezes the piezoelectric material which then produces an electrical signal/charge/capacitance which is proportional to the force.

This acceleration which is then transformed into an electric signal is used to measure changes in the device’s position. With the above explanation, we can say that:

Charge produced ∝Force - Guruface blog

From Newton’s law, we know that:

Force = Mass x Acceleration

Since the mass is going to be constant we can say:

Charge produced ∝Acceleration - Guruface blog

What are its applications?

Over the years, the development of airbags has prevented millions of deaths. The airbags are activated by accelerometers because a sudden shock will prompt the sensor to produce a signal.

Accelerometers are used more frequently in manufacturing units, turbines, etc. as they are helpful for monitoring vibrations. The accelerometer would detect a sudden drop of the laptop while it is in use and would promptly turn off the hard drive to prevent damage.

It is used by doctors to track bodily movements and check for weight gain. It can also be found in equipment used to measure heart rate. Drones’ mid-flight orientation is stabilized with the aid of accelerometers.

In sports, accelerometers are employed for even more advanced tracking and detection processes. Athletes regularly use accelerometers or gyroscopes in wearable devices to practice and for observing performance in a more technically accurate mode.

Guruface Academy’s Robotics Courses

Did you find the information about accelerometers and their applications interesting? We knew it because the love for technology and its possibilities is never going to end for people like us. Guruface Academy is providing a bunch of robotics and other tech-related courses, especially for kids to introduce them to these amazing technologies right from an early age.

Who knows if a simple tech exposure can boost your child to become a scientist, astronaut, or a great tech professional in the future? Even if you don’t want your kid to be in any of these professions, it is always a good experience for them to discover these fun technology aspects up close.

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We also have a free webinar running every week to introduce the kids and their parents to our online robotics classes and how they are conducted. Register now for our free Robotics and Coding classes for kids’ webinar now and experience it yourself.  

See you at the live event! Good Day.

Marini is the Senior Robotics Trainer at Guruface Academy. She holds a Master's Degree (MS) in Electronics and is an experienced Instructor with a demonstrated history of Training students across the Globe in Various Robotics platforms. Marini is also a Professional Stem Educator with sound knowledge of Electronics, Coding, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, etc.