MEMS accelerometers are powerful tools which let you measure not only acceleration but much more. If you need to measure acceleration, mechanical vibrations or detect movement this post is for you! Here are some examples what you actually can measure with the accelerometer.


Linear acceleration measurement can be useful in the transportation area. Everyone can tell that traveling on a bumpy road makes the car break down faster. Imagine that you have car rental service and want to know how much damage road made to the suspension of your car the car you rented to someone. The mounting accelerometer inside the car can solve that problem easily by recording dangerous events. The accelerometer can monition driver behavior too. If the driver starts too fast of hits brake pedal too strong accelerometer will notice that. Simple threshold algorithm will check if the driver wasn’t too crazy on the road.


Nowadays small and power-efficient platforms like Raspberry Pi or Beaglebonne let you use USB devices remotely. It is a great way to use an accelerometer for the remote control enthusiast. If you are one, you can use the accelerometer to measure the behavior of a model car, rocket, boat or plane! For example, if you are an amateur rocket constructor you can measure its acceleration and then obtain velocity and position. Even the biggest accelerations can be measured with ADXL345 setting its range up to 16g. Acceleration measurement helps monitor rocket and engine behavior. You can find out what causes vibrations or just calculate its speed.


Next possible application of an accelerometer is angle measurement. It is possible because of the ubiquitous gravity filed. In the rest frame on earth, accelerometer constantly measures gravity field acceleration. Sometimes it can be undesirable but in the case of angle measurement is the thing that makes it possible. Sadly it is possible to measure only two (pitch and roll) of three angles of rotation but it is enough in the case of screen orientation for example.


Next interesting application is displacement measurement. It may be not the most accurate method of measurement but it is possible. If you know calculus, you probably know that acceleration is the second derivative of position, so if we want to obtain a position (up to constant) from acceleration we have to integrate twice. Numerical integration can be a complex topic so let’s do not go into details here.


Wide area of accelerometers applications is mechanical vibration analysis. It is very helpful in diagnostics of different kinds of mechanism. Recording vibrations and analyzing its frequency spectrum can show defects and wear of the mechanism.


Finally, if you are runner, boxer or other athlete that want to measure the strength of your hit (like those boxing machined do) you can do it with the accelerometer. Analyzing such data is quite simple. You should find just the peak value of recorded hit and that is your score! Using frequency analysis you can find steps per minute like the nowadays smart watched do.

That is it! Maybe you have an idea for some application? Be sure to leave your ideas in the comments section!


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