Are you using accelerometers and/or gyroscopes?

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012 by Robert Cravotta

My daughter received a Nintendo 3DS for the holidays. I naively expected the 3D portion of the hand held gaming machine to be a 3D display in a small form factor. Wow, was I wrong. The augmented reality games that combine the 3D display with the position and angle of the gaming machine. In other words, what the system displays changes to reflect how you physically move the game machine around.

Another use of embedded accelerometers and/or gyroscopes that I have heard about is to enable the system to protect itself when it is dropped. When the system detects that it is falling, it has a brief moment where it tries to lock down the mechanically sensitive portions of the system so that when it impacts the ground it incurs a minimum of damage to sensitive components inside the system.

Gyroscopes can be used to stabilize images viewed/recorded via binoculars and cameras by detecting jitter in the way the user is holding the system and making adjustments to the sensor subsystem.

As the price of accelerometers and gyroscope continue to benefit from the scale of being adopted in gaming systems, the opportunities for including them in other embedded systems improve. Are you using accelerometers and/or gyroscopes in any of your designs? Are you aware of any innovative forms of inertial sensing and processing that might provide inspiration for new capabilities for other embedded developers?


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