Glossary

Accelerometer

Accelerometer© 2020 Shutterstock

What is an accelerometer?

An accelerometer is a device that measures vibrations to gauge the acceleration forces of an object. In essence, accelerometers are tiny sensors that you’ll find embedded into a variety of handheld devices such as smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, and sometimes even game controllers (think Wii remotes) and even drones.

What is an accelerometer used for in mobile devices? Mostly, they’re used for movement tracking and orientation sensing. In mobile devices, the accelerometer sensor is used to gauge orientation and “flip” the screen when you rotate it. They’re also used to track movement, such as counting steps, measuring the distance you’ve run as part of a running or exercise app, or even calculating how many calories you’ve burnt while engaging in certain activities.

In digital cameras, accelerometers can be used for image stabilization, and in drones, used to help with flight stabilization. Fujifilm, Olympus, Nikon, Minolta, and Canon all reference the use of accelerometer technology in some of their products.

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