“The challenge for a human now is to be more interesting to another than his smartphone.” – Alain de Botton
Before we dive into the topic, I’ll try to explain a bit of information about the sensor and how it works. Due to my limited understanding of sensors, I suggest you do your own research to gain a more in-depth understanding.
What is a sensor and how does it work?
Sensors are devices that detect or measure changes in physical quantities, elements, or energies in the atmosphere and transform them into signals that can be read by humans. They are also called transducers.
Methodology of work
The diagram above shows the first sensor detecting any change / fluctuation of any quantity, such as temperature, pressure, speed, and sends them as electrical signals to the data acquisition device (DAQ) [which converts the analog signals into digital ones]. Finally, the DAQ device passes the output to the application that uses the information.
Ideally, you can get an overview of what precisely the sensors are and how they work. Currently, we will perceive what kind of sensors our cell phones have and how they help us on a day-to-day basis.
1. Proximity sensor
The proximity sensor is located on the top of the phone, next to the earpiece [normal speaker]. In normal operation, it detects on its radar any object with which it comes into contact. During a call, this sensor automatically turns off the screen to prevent accidental contact and reduce battery consumption.
2.Ambient light sensor
Ambient light sensor detects backlighting from a mobile screen [LCD, AMOLED, OLED] and control the brightness of the device based on the ambient light in the surrounding area, as well as the apps that control the phone. During automatic brightness adjustment, you may be using this sensor without knowing it.
A magnetometer sensor is used to detect or estimate directions via a smartphone. By varying the output voltage of the smartphone, it works like a digital compass to keep it aligned with the magnetic north of the earth. When we use navigation apps like Google Maps, Apple Maps, or any other location-based app, these sensors are triggered to predict the right direction. In addition, these sensors work as metal detectors to detect metals.
A biometric sensor makes it easy to unlock a device. Today every smartphone comes with a fingerprint sensor (rear, side or on-screen / on-screen), which scans our fingerprints and stores them turning them into binary codes to authenticate the device. later. Isn’t that beautiful? Obviously, this makes our job a lot easier because we don’t have to remember a pin or a pattern, and there are no worries about our friends unlocking the device. Thus, this technology offers better security.
The accelerometer is a sensor used to maintain the orientation of the user interface of the device based on a mechanism based on the movement of the axis. We can rotate the screen [UI] device automatically using this sensor by choosing auto-rotate in device settings. During racing games or applications that need to calculate the speed of a moving object, this sensor is useful. Additionally, phone makers like Motorola have used this sensor to modify certain gestures such as changing songs, taking screenshots, and activating the flash.
The gyroscope sensor offers 360 degree tilt and orientation control for smartphones. The level of navigation precision is improved. Especially in racing games, and even in PUBG, you might have tilted the device in all directions during an adrenaline rush. The sensors keep the origin of the axis aligned in each of the three rotations, so your screen will stay aligned no matter which position you are in. Gyro sensors play a crucial role in augmented reality and virtual reality applications.
The barometer’s sensors detect changes in the atmosphere based on pressure differences in the atmosphere. It provides precise information regarding your location, allowing you to identify which GPS component they activate when needed. The barometer sensor is used by weather applications to predict weather conditions.
8. Pedometer sensor
Pedometers are used as step counters and step detectors. They internalize the device with an accelerometer that calculates the number of steps you have taken while wearing the device. Even if you keep it in your pocket, the sensor will do its job. Fitness trainers and gym members will appreciate this device as there is no longer a need to carry external devices or bands. Several applications can trigger this sensor if it is present in your smartphone.
9. Heart rate sensor
With a heart rate sensor, you can measure your heart rate with an optical LED light source and a sensor that measures light. An optical beam passes through your skin and the reflected light is measured by a sensor. The reflection of light on your skin will change depending on the amount of blood passing through it. These variations in light reflections are interpreted as heartbeats.
There are several additional sensors like the temperature sensor [used to measure the temperature of the air], infrared blaster [used to operate other devices], humidity sensor [gives out the amount of water vapour present in the atmosphere], Soil sensor [used in Pixel 4 to detect phone movement and improve face unlock functionality], Lidar sensor [used in iPhone 12, similar to radar uses a laser to detect depth and distances], NFC [near field communication sensor used to transfer data between devices in 10cm range], of course, our camera also has a lot of sensors, but this deserves its own article.