Glossary

Gyroscope

What is a gyroscope?

Gyroscopes are sensors that determine an object's position and orientation by measuring the angular rotational velocity. The gyroscope was named in the 19th century by French physicist Jean-Bernard-Léon Foucault, who worked on one of the technology's prototypes.

Traditional gyroscopes – used, for instance, to assist navigation in submarines, airplanes, and uncrewed aerial vehicles – consist of a spinning wheel or disc (also known as a rotor) mounted onto an axis. Although the rotation axis that can spin in any orientation, the rotor remains stable, indicating the gravitational pull. Gyroscopes in consumer electronics (such as smartphones and game consoles) are called MEMS gyroscopes and work differently from traditional sensors. MEMS stands for microelectromechanical systems, built similarly to integrated circuits. In devices such as smartphones, gyroscopes typically work alongside another sensor called accelerometer, enhancing the precision of orientation detection.

This sensor is often applied to gaming smartphones (detecting screen tilt and thus imitating gravity, as an example) and other functionalities that rely on orientation information, such as automatic screen rotation. Gyroscopes also come in handy when it comes to tablets, which are often used for gaming and in various screen orientations.

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