Last reply: Kyla 19-06-2018 14:46:59
Everything you know about sensors!
Few years ago, not many people are using smartphones because of high costs. Those who bought expensive phones were using their devices just for basic activities because of limited internet connectivity and lack of functionalities and innovations. But situation in Indian market changed when many companies started launching the smartphones at affordable prices with many features in-built. Now, almost 9 out of 10 people are carrying smart devices in their pockets and using them for many day to day activities.
Our smartphone consists of many parts, e.g. Motherboard, Ram, battery, processor, camera etc. But there are also small parts that are integrated in main motherboard of device which are very small equipments but can provide lots of features to us. What are they? They are nothing but sensors. There are multiple sensors available in one smartphone which can do lots of activities and measurements by consuming little power. Sensors are mostly hardware based but few sensors are also software based. To summarize the definition of sensor, they are different type of sensing devices installed on our device to gather inputs and collect data for various purposes. Working of sensor is purely based on physics theory and concepts.
Let us look at the following examples to get better idea.
Example 1: I am playing a car racing game and I am tilting my smartphone for taking left and right turns. I am also accelerating my car using on screen steering wheel. I know that I am moving my car by tilting down my smartphone. But how can my game application come to know about my inputs? It’s because of sensor. The sensor instructs my movements to game application and my game will work accordingly and my car will be moved as per my movements performed.
Example 2: I am waking on the road and I want my smartphone to count my total steps. Is it possible? Yes. How? Because of the sensor. Now, I have total step count right in front of my mobile screen, so I don’t need to count and remember each step manually. My work made easy.
I have following sensors present in my device. The list is not that big though.
How to find which sensors are present in your device?
Download any 3rd party trustable application in your phone from Google play store like CPU-Z. It will provide the list of available sensors in your device as shown in the image above.
Now, I will explain few sensors in brief that are present in low to mid range devices.
1) Light Sensor (Hardware Based):
Main function of light sensor is to optimise the light of the screen. It is mostly used by auto brightness feature in our smartphone. If we keep auto brightness ON, it adjusts the screen display according to the environment we are standing in. If we are in dark room, mostly we can see that screen brightness will be low and once we move to the decent lighting condition, brightness will increase. It happens because of Light sensor. Light sensor usually measures the light in surrounded area and work accordingly to provide optimum display on the screen.
2) Proximity Sensor (Hardware Based):
A proximity sensor is able to detect the presence of nearby objects without any physical contact. It is mostly located near to call earpiece. When we use our phone to make or receive a call, it detects our ear [closer object] and the screen display goes off to save power and to avoid any accidental screen touches while talking. If we move our phone away from the ear, screen wakes up. In simple way, it detects the changes in the distance between object and phone.
3) Magnetometer (Hardware Based):
It provides simple orientation in relation to the Earth's strength and direction of magnetic field. It is usually used to provide a direction so our device can detect which way is north and south. It is useful when we are using maps/GPS so that it can navigate our location according to the orientation. Magnetometers are found in metal detectors as well, as they can detect magnetic metals.
4) Accelerometer (Hardware Based):
Accelerometer is most accurate sensor present in our device. An acceleration sensor detects orientation and tilting applied to device. Say, my device is vertical and I want to see a video. Now, I will rotate and keep my device horizontal. The screen orientation also shifts to horizontal. This is happened because of Accelerometer. You should keep Auto rotate setting enable in your device to move the screen orientation as device rotates. Auto rotation is software in android which gets information from Accelerometer and can change the rotation of the device. This sensor can be also used for inputs to gaming controls like when we move or tilt our device while playing to perform some action. Accelerometer is also used to count the steps.
5) Gyroscope (Hardware Based):
Gyroscope also provides orientation information like accelerometer but in great precisions. It adds additional information to accelerometer readings by tracking rotation or movements. This sensor is required if you are using virtual reality to view 360 degree photos and videos. As we move the phone, photos and videos also move because of gyroscope.
6) Fingerprint Sensor (Hardware Based):
Fingerprint sensors are now an essential part of a modern smartphone, and in most cases, they make apps more secure. It is related to security and used to scan and capture fingerprints which is also called as biometrics to provide security. We use fingerprint to unlock the device or an application by just placing our registered finger on sensor.
7) Rotation Vector(Software Based):
Calculates the orientation of the device, returning an angle and an axis. It is mostly used to simplify the values and calculations for 3D based applications and providing a rotation angle combined with a rotation axis around which the device rotated.
These are some basic sensors that are present in many devices which can work independently or together to provide outputs to user applications to perform events and actions.