Welcome to Device Tech Bytes Volume 9! In the previous Tech Byte topic, we have seen Battery Care for your Gadgets! by cherri. Today we are going to learn about different sensors in the smartphone. Smartphones we use today have gone through an incredible evolution over the last decade. With the improvement in technology, smartphones are getting smarter every year and are capable of working as a personal assistant that can monitor our heartbeat, track our movements, and anticipate our needs.
Have you ever wondered how does your smartphone achieve such remarkable feats? It's because of the sensors. But do you know how many smartphone sensors are there in your device or what their purpose is? Let's check some of them.
An accelerometer detects acceleration, vibration, and tilt to determine movement and exact orientation along the three axes. Apps use this sensor to determine whether your phone is in portrait or landscape orientation. It can also tell if your phone screen is facing upward or downward. The accelerometer can also detect how fast your phone is moving in any linear direction.
Gyroscope also provides orientation details and direction like up or down and left or right but with greater precision like how much the device is tilted.
Gyroscope can also measure rotation while accelerometer cannot. So it can tell how much a smartphone has been rotated and in which direction. Popular apps like Pokemon Go and Google Sky Map use gyroscope sensor to determine the direction towards which our phone is pointed.
Our smartphones are equipped with magnetometer which we commonly recognize as a compass. It can detect magnetic fields, so the compass app in our phones uses this smartphone sensor to point at the planet’s north pole. Whenever you open Maps, the magnetometer is fired up to determine which way the map should be. This sensor can detect metal very well, so it is used in metal detector apps too.
4. Proximity Sensor
A proximity sensor makes use of an infrared LED and IR light detector to find out how close the phone is to an outside object. It is used while making calls and when the phone is held to the face to make or receive a call. The sensor detects it and disables the touchscreen display to avoid unintended input through the skin. Pocket mode in MIUI also uses this sensor.
5. Ambient Light Sensor
The microphone is basically a sound sensor that detects and measures the loudness of sound. While there are different types of microphone sensors available, smartphones generally use micro-sized electret microphones. It is also used for voice search and voice commands for digital assistant apps like Google Assistant. Notes, recorder and camera also use this sensor.
7. Touchscreen Sensors
These sensors have an electrical current passing through them at all times and touching the screen causes a change in the signals. This change acts as input for the device. In earlier days, resistive screens were used in the display. But nowadays, the capacitive screen is used in almost all smartphones.
8. Fingerprint Sensor
When you put your finger on its surface, the ridges in your fingerprints touch the surface whereas the hollows between the ridges have a slight separation. In short, it measures the varying distances and pattern between the ridges on the surface of your finger. This sensor is quite useful in apps that requires authentication such as payment apps.
The pedometer is used for counting steps, and fitness tracker makes use of this sensor to count the number of steps you take. Pedometers generally use the values generated by the accelerometer to monitor your movements like running or walking.
10. Barcode/QR Code sensors
Most of the smartphones have barcode sensors that can read a barcode by detecting the reflected light from the code. It generates an analog signal with varying voltage that represents the barcode. This analog signal is then converted to a digital one and finally decoded to reveal the information in it. Barcode sensors are useful in scanning the barcodes products or QR codes. Scanner app in our phone uses this sensor.
These are some of the most important smartphone sensors that you should know of. Given that smartphones are getting smarter day by day and sensors play a major role in it, this list will definitely grow longer. You can mention other sensors in the comments which you think are also important.
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