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Definition

accelerometer

Contributor(s): Matthew Haughn

An accelerometer is a device that measures changes in gravitational acceleration in a device it may be installed in. Accelerometers are used to measure acceleration, tilt and vibration in numerous devices.

At rest, an accelerometer measures 1g: the earth’s gravitational pull, which registers 9.81 meters per second or 32.185 feet per second. Accelerometers that use the piezoelectric effect measure a small voltage change. Others  measure capactitance between two components. 

To sense motion in multiple directions, an accelerometer must be designed with multi-axis sensors or multiple linear axis sensors. Three linear accelerometers are adequate to measure movement in three dimensions.

Applications for accelerometers include:

  • Monitoring devices in biology, engineering cars, industry, volcanology and more.
  • Guidance devices in for telemetry in rocketry.
  • Image orientation in smartphones.
  • Input in smartphones, tablets and game controllers.

 

This was last updated in January 2014

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