An Overview of the Capabilities and Limitations of Smartphone Sensors

An Overview of the Capabilities and Limitations of Smartphone Sensors

Avi Klausner (Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Boston University, Boston, MA, USA), Ari Trachtenberg (Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Boston University, Boston, MA, USA), David Starobinski (Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Boston University, Boston, MA, USA) and Mark Horenstein (Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Boston University, Boston, MA, USA)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 12
DOI: 10.4018/jhcr.2013040105
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Abstract

Few technical details are available about the various sensors embedded in modern smartphones, and what details are available can be hard to assemble and interpret by the broader technical community that uses these devices. Since the physical and electromagnetic aspects of the sensors' operation can significantly affect the analysis and use of their data, it is essential for those who rely on these data to understand these details. As such, the authors provide a simplified and yet technically precise explanation of some of the sensors found on the Motorola Droid, which are representative of sensors found in most smartphones. The authors specifically explain its proximity sensor, Hall effect magnetometer, capacitive accelerometer, orientation sensor, and light sensor. Each sensor is described using illustrations and experiments that are provided to demonstrate some unexpected behaviors.
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Sensors

The Droid smartphone has five main sensors: a proximity sensor, a magnetometer, an accelerometer, an orientation sensor, and a light sensor, all of which enhance the phone's functionality. Each sensor is embedded in the phone's circuit board or placed strategically according to its function. In this section, we describe these sensors in greater detail using real world experiments to illustrate their capabilities and limitations.

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