WHAT IS AN ACCELEROMETER?
An accelerometer is an instrument for measuring acceleration, detecting and measuring vibrations, or for measuring acceleration due to gravity (inclination). Accelerometers can be used to measure vibration on vehicles, machines, buildings, process control systems and safety installations. They can also be used to measure seismic activity, inclination, machine vibration, dynamic distance and speed with or without the influence of gravity.
HOW DOES AN ACCELEROMETER WORK?
Used for calculating acceleration and measuring vibrations, the accelerometer is capable of detecting even the slightest movements, from the tilting of a building to smallest vibration caused by a musical instrument. Inside the accelerometer sensor minute structures are present that produces electrical charges if the sensor experiences any movement.
Accelerometers need to be placed on the surface of the object in order to determine the vibrations. It is not capable of work in isolation or apart from the object it is required to assess, it must be firmly attached to the object in order to give precise readings.
KINDS OF ACCELEROMETER
The two kinds of basic accelerometers are:
1. ANALOG ACCELEROMETER
At times Inputs and output readings also matter especially when it comes to determining the kind of accelerometer that needs to be placed on a certain object. If the output is digital then a digital accelerometer must be placed and vice versa. The main feature of this accelerometer is that the output tends to change when there is even a slight change in the input.
The most common type of this accelerometer is used in airbags of automobiles, to note the sudden drop in the speed of the vehicle and to trigger the airbag release. Even laptops are now being equipped with accelerometers in order to protect the hard drive against any physical dangers, caused mainly due to accidental drops.
2. DIGITAL ACCELEROMETER
The digital accelerometer is more sophisticated than the analog. Here the amount of high voltage time is proportional to the acceleration. One of its major advantages is that it is more stable and produces a direct output signal. Accelerometers are now also used in aerospace and many military applications, such as missile launch, weapon fire system, rocket deployment etc. Many a times these accelerometers are used to protect fragile equipment during cargo transportation, and report any strain that might cause a possible damage. Some companies have also managed to develop a wireless 3-axis accelerometers which are not only low in cost but are also shock durable. This 3-axis accelerometer has sensors that are used to protect mobiles and music players. Also these sensors are used in some of the devices used for traffic navigation and control.