An accelerometer is a device that measures proper acceleration, often due to motion or gravity. It senses changes in velocity and direction to determine orientation, inclination, and any sudden disturbances. They are essential in various technologies, including smartphones, automobiles, and fitness trackers.


The phonetic spelling of “Accelerometer” is: /əkˈsɛləˌrɑːmɪtər/

Key Takeaways

  1. An Accelerometer is a device that measures changes in gravitational attraction and proper acceleration. This makes them particularly useful in technology where orientation and direction are important, such as in smartphones and in-vehicle systems.
  2. They fall into two primary categories: static and dynamic. Static accelerometers measure earth’s gravity, allowing them to determine the angle at which a device is tilted in reference to the earth. Dynamic accelerometers, on the other hand, measure linear and vibrational movement.
  3. Accelerometers are critical in numerous modern technologies. They’re used to detect and monitor vibration in machinery, for vehicle navigation, in mobile devices to figure out screen orientation, in drones for flight stabilization, and much more, making them highly versatile.


An accelerometer is a crucial piece of technology primarily used to measure dynamic acceleration or changes in speed and static acceleration such as gravity. It plays a significant role in various domains, from everyday devices to advanced scientific research. In consumer electronics, like smartphones and game controllers, accelerometers help detect device orientation and movement, supporting features like screen rotation, step counting, and motion-controlled games. They are also vital in vehicle systems for stability control and in drones for flight stabilization. In scientific research and space exploration, accelerometers help track and measure changes in velocity and gravitational forces. Therefore, their importance lies in enabling interaction, control, safety, and exploration across varied fields.


An accelerometer is a device that is pivotal in technology for measuring the rate of change of velocity i.e., acceleration of an object it’s attached to, including the flexibility of detecting the direction, whether up or down, or side to side. It plays a crucial role in various modern technological devices, ensuring proper functioning and user interactivity.In the field of consumer electronics, accelerometers are a fundamental component in smartphones, tablets, and gaming consoles. They inform the device about its orientation, enabling automatic adjustment of the display from portrait to landscape, and vice versa, as the device is rotated. In addition, it enables activities like motion tracking in fitness bands or pedometers by counting steps and calculating distance travelled and calories burned. They’re also a crucial component in drones, helping maintain a stable flight. In vehicles, accelerometers enable the airbag systems to sense a sudden impact and deploy safety measures appropriately. These applications reveal how accelerometers have become an essential element in enhancing user experience and device functionality.


1. Smartphones and Tablets: The accelerometer is a key component in these devices. It allows the device to understand its orientation, enabling functionalities such as automatic rotation of the display when you shift your device from portrait to landscape, or counting steps in health apps.2. Fitness Trackers and Pedometers: These devices use accelerometers to track physical activities. They monitor movements to calculate the number of steps taken, the speed at which the person is moving, the distance traveled, and even the number of calories burned.3. Automobiles and Aviation: In cars, accelerometers are used in the systems that deploy air bags during crashes. By sensing a sudden, sharp deceleration, the accelerometer will signal the airbag to activate. In aviation, accelerometers are used to monitor flight direction and stability.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

**Q1: What is an Accelerometer?**A1: An accelerometer is a device that measures proper acceleration, which is the rate of change of velocity of an object with respect to a particular frame of reference. **Q2: How does an Accelerometer work?**A2: An accelerometer works based on accelerative forces, such as static force or dynamic force. When the accelerometer experiences acceleration, the mass inside it moves, and the device measures this displacement to calculate the acceleration.**Q3: Where are Accelerometers used?**A3: Accelerometers have numerous applications. They are used in aircraft and ships for navigation, in smartphones and tablets for orientation detection, in cameras for image stabilization, and in drones, game controllers, laptops, and many more devices.**Q4: Can an Accelerometer measure Gravity?**A4: Yes, accelerometers can measure gravity since it’s a type of accelerative force. This is the reason your smartphone switches the screen from portrait to landscape mode when you tilt it.**Q5: How accurate are Accelerometers?**A5: The accuracy of an accelerometer can vary greatly depending upon its quality and intended purpose. High-end accelerometers used in aviation and marine applications are highly precise, whereas consumer-grade devices used in smartphones or wearables may have a relatively lower level of accuracy.**Q6: What is the difference between a Gyroscope and an Accelerometer?**A6: While both are devices that can measure orientation, an accelerometer measures linear acceleration of movement, while a gyroscope measures rotational speed around an axis. Both are typically used together in devices to accurately track and control movement.**Q7: Are there different types of Accelerometers?**A7: Yes, there are several types of accelerometers such as capacitive accelerometers, piezoelectric accelerometers, and piezoresistive accelerometers, all of which are based on different sensing principles. The type of accelerometer used depends on the specific application.**Q8: Can Accelerometers measure distance?**A8: In principle, an accelerometer can measure distance by double integrating its output signal. However, in practice, even a small error in the output can lead to a large error in the distance calculation, making it an unreliable method for measuring distance.**Q9: What is the lifespan of an Accelerometer?**A9: The lifespan of an accelerometer can vary greatly depending on its type and usage. Industrial-grade accelerometers can last for several years, while the ones in consumer electronics usually last as long as the device itself.**Q10: Can Accelerometers detect vibration?**A10: Yes, accelerometers can detect vibration. In fact, they are often used in industrial settings for monitoring machinery and detecting any anomalies in their vibration patterns, which could suggest potential issues.

Related Technology Terms

  • Gyroscope
  • Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU)
  • Force Applied
  • Micro-electro-mechanical systems (MEMS)
  • Gravity Sensor

Sources for More Information


About The Authors

The DevX Technology Glossary is reviewed by technology experts and writers from our community. Terms and definitions continue to go under updates to stay relevant and up-to-date. These experts help us maintain the almost 10,000+ technology terms on DevX. Our reviewers have a strong technical background in software development, engineering, and startup businesses. They are experts with real-world experience working in the tech industry and academia.

See our full expert review panel.


About Our Editorial Process

At DevX, we’re dedicated to tech entrepreneurship. Our team closely follows industry shifts, new products, AI breakthroughs, technology trends, and funding announcements. Articles undergo thorough editing to ensure accuracy and clarity, reflecting DevX’s style and supporting entrepreneurs in the tech sphere.

See our full editorial policy.

Technology Glossary

Table of Contents

More Terms