Behind the screen: Sensors that make your mobile phone smart

Published: February 19, 2018 4:08:31 AM

Fact is, mobiles are rapidly becoming intelligent and adding new capabilities. All this is powered by a collection of sensors that go inside these devices—to make them smart and intelligent.

sensors, mobile phone, Fingerprint Sensor, Accelerometer Sensor, Digital CompassIt has become quite fashionable, especially among youngsters, to talk about the various new technologies that go into their mobile phones, tablets and laptops. (Reuters)

It has become quite fashionable, especially among youngsters, to talk about the various new technologies that go into their mobile phones, tablets and laptops. Such conversations are normally restricted to processors, cameras, memory and storage. Probe further, for instance, about the various sensors in their devices and most people will draw a blank.
Fact is, mobiles are rapidly becoming intelligent and adding new capabilities. All this is powered by a collection of sensors that go inside these devices—to make them smart and intelligent. Here’s all you need to know about the different kinds of sensors and how they work.

Fingerprint Sensor

This electronic device captures a digital image of the fingerprint pattern. It stores a ‘live scan’ which is used in verifying a match between two human fingerprints. It is an optical sensor that detects fingerprint and does verification with the help of high-powered DSP chip that does the image rendering, calculation, feature-finding, and searching. Quite often, the fast performance of this sensor is key to deciding the smartphone winners in terms of delivering great processor speeds.

Accelerometer Sensor

The accelerometer is used to sense the changes in the orientation of a smartphone with respect to the viewing angle of the device. A good accelerometer perfectly senses the change in orientation by 3D (X, Y, Z axis) measurement of the acceleration in a smartphone. The camera mode changes the orientation of the device from portrait to landscape or vice-versa as we change the orientation of the smartphone. This sensor is used by a number of applications to identify the orientation of the device and its movements, allowing smooth functioning of features such as shaking the phone to change music.

Digital Compass

A compass is used to find accurate direction with respect to the north-south pole of the earth with the help of magnetism. Digital Compass functionality in the smartphone is powered by a sensor called Magnetometer. This sensor helps the phone to find the direction in the map/navigation apps.

Gyroscope Sensor

This is the sensor which is used to maintain and control the position of a smartphone. It works entirely on the principle of angular momentum. Smooth functioning of this sensor becomes extremely important while playing games. It works with an Accelerometer to detect the rotation of phone and features such as tilting of phone to play racing games enhances the overall gaming experience.

Ambient Light Sensor

It is an important sensor that defines the smartness of a device. The Ambient light sensor adjusts the display screen’s brightness according to the lighting conditions and it is this sensor that helps save the battery power and eventually increases the life of a smartphone. This sensor works on the physical phenomenon of ‘superposition’. It contains photo diodes which are sensitive to different spectrum of lights and hence helps the device towards delivering optimal luminance of the display.

GPS Sensor

GPS navigation sensor calculates geographical location of the smartphone by receiving information from a GPS satellite. Global positioning system (GPS) is a satellite-based navigation system made up of a network of a minimum of 24 satellites and the satellite data is free and works anywhere in the world. And most importantly it does not need an internet connection.

Proximity Sensor

The proximity sensor works on the nearness of any object to the smartphone. Usually the proximity sensor is located at the top immediacy of the front-facing camera. It helps smartphones in terms of detecting the distance of any object near the display of the smartphone and if that object is much close to the display then the sensor works towards shutting off the display in order to save power and nullify unnecessary touch input.

NFC Sensor

With a wide adoption of alternative payment methodologies, NFC is fast gaining ground as a means to communicate between smartphones and the POS device. The NFC or Near Field Communication sensor is a set of communication protocols that enables two electronic devices to easily communicate by bringing them within 4 cm (2 inches) of each other.

By: Zia Askari

Askari writes on communications, technology and gadgets at TelecomDrive.com

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