Gyroscope Sensor

The gyroscope helps the accelerometer out with understanding which way your phone is orientated— it adds another level of precision so those 360-degree photospheres really look as impressive as possible.

Gyroscope allows you to play somatic games with your phone, move your phone to switch the view in games, and navigate when GPS services are not available. The gyroscope is also used in VR activities, 3D photography, panoramic navigation, and so on.

A gyroscope is a device consisting of a rapidly spinning wheel set in a framework that permits it to tilt freely in any direction. The momentum of such a wheel causes it to retain its attitude when the framework is tilted, and is therefore used to measure or maintain orientation and angular velocity. Generally, a three-frame gyroscope is used on a phone, which can simultaneously determine positions, motion tracks, and accelerations in six directions.

Whenever you play a racing game on your phone and tilt the screen to steer, the gyroscope rather than the accelerometer is sensing what you’re doing, because you’re only applying small turns to the phone and not actually moving through space.

Gyroscopes aren’t exclusive to phones: They’re used in altimeters inside aircraft to determine altitude and position, for example, and to keep cameras steady on the move. Better ones are in the pipeline, though they won’t immediately be cheap and practical enough for consumer mobile devices.

The gyroscopes inside smartphones don’t use wheels and gimbals like the traditional mechanical ones you might find in an old plane—instead, they’re MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical Systems) gyroscopes.

The first time MEMS gyroscopes really hit it big was with the iPhone 4 in 2010. Back then, it was incredibly novel to have a phone that could detect orientation with such accuracy—nowadays, we take it for granted.

Applications of Gyroscope in Smartphone:

  • Motion-sensing GUI: Gyroscope in a smartphone provides a GUI that enables a user to select menus etc by tilting the phone. One can deflect the phone slightly to go up and down the contact list. It enables a smartphone to trigger preset commands basis different motions. For instance, one can shake the phone to lock it.
  • Answer phone/open website: A Gyro sensor in your phone provides the ability to answer your phone, or open a website by present commands such as rotating, gently shaking the phone 2 to 3 times, etc.
  • Image stabilization: Image stabilization is one of the applications of a Gyroscope in your smartphone and it prevents the trembling of the hand from affecting the quality of the image. It enables the phone to record the actions, during the pressing of the shutter, in order to help catch more clear photos. It eliminates the effect of vibrations on both photos and videos.
  • GPS-inertial navigation: In case of a lost service or network, in tunnels or underground roads, the GPS continues to help navigate the car with the help of Gyroscope.
  • Motion-sensing control game: Apple with its iPhone 4 launch made Gyroscope the core of motion gaming. It enables the developer to control the game via the detection of action. It enables you to use your phone as a steering wheel while driving a car in a game, or a jet, etc. The game replicates the moments you do with your phone and hence controls games with a motion sense.

Related glossaries: