It's all well and good to hear the mechanics of what an accelerometer is, but how are they useful? What can I do with an accelerometer or what kind of projects might use an accelerometer? Let's go over some uses which may align with what you're looking to do in your projects.

Movement Detection

Any change in the location of the accelerometer chip will be registered as changes in the values it sends out. You can use the fact that the numbers registered have changed to detect a movement, or poll the x, y, and z values and make calculations as to in what direction the motion has taken place and by how much it has moved.

If a project wants to detect any movement or measure a movement, an accelerometer is perfect.

If you are looking for a specific location to where something has moved, an accelerometer will not provide that data, a GPS unit would be a better sensor for exact location data.

What's Up and Down

If you need to figure out whether something is oriented the right way with respect to the ground, an accelerometer works fine.

To do so, the accelerometer needs to be oriented so that any movement will be in two directions. With a bit of math, you can calculate "up" and "down" relative to the earth.

How does this work when you aren't moving the accelerometer? Well don't forget: gravity is a force which makes us accelerate 9.8 meters/s^2 towards the Earth! We can measure that acceleration to see which way is "down"!

This guide was first published on Sep 12, 2018. It was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

This page (Uses for Accelerometers) was last updated on Mar 08, 2024.

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