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There’s An Accelerometer In Here?

Occasionally someone will mention new ways that smartphones have advanced. One of the popular catch phrases include how phones now have accelerometers in them. But what exactly is an accelerometer? What do accelerometers do? What can you do with an accelerometer? Accelerometers measure the force of acceleration, through movement or gravity. This means that a device that features an accelerometer can measure how far or in which direction the user moved. Accelerometers make the Nintendo Wii remotes work.

Accelerometer Technology Enhances Various Smartphone Functions

Most people only know about accelerometers if they’re using their smartphone to track their distance or routes. Apps like Nike+ Running are free and are able to track user movements through either a GPS, where location services tracks the runs, or with an accelerometer. These options are often in the settings menu. Using the accelerometer is ideal when GPS signal is weak or nonexistent. Some argue that using accelerometers to track runs or a day’s overall movement is more accurate, as sometimes apps that utilize GPS to track runs measure apps inconsistently. For instance, if you receive a call during a GPS tracked run, the GPS will have to make a guess to how far you went during the phone call. If the call happened to last a long time, this time will not be tracked accurately.

But there are other uses for your phone’s accelerometer that might not seem to make sense at first. There are reading apps that utilize a phone’s accelerometer to ensure that the text doesn’t scroll haphazardly across the screen. This technique allows reading apps to more closely mimic a reader’s experience, making it easier to follow the text.

There are even apps that utilize accelerometers to make sound. Some apps allow you to manipulate existing sound files by moving your phone around. This same technology allows games, like the ones with labyrinths, to function. The accelerometer will detect the small tilts or turns that the user makes with the phone and adjust the game accordingly on the screen.

Arguably current accelerometer technology is just scratching the surface of what’s capable from using it. As new technologies evolve, accelerometers might provide even more opportunities for the tech-savvy that understand them. For example, Wii remotes of the future might just be a smartphone with a downloadable app.