Tangible Interaction | Component Report

Updated: Mar 31

Topic - accelerometer/gyroscope

Accelerometers are electromechanical devices that measure acceleration, the rate of change in velocity of an object. In other words, it’s device used to respond to any vibrations associated with movement.

Gyroscope is a device used for measuring rotational changes or maintaining orientation. It’s based on the principle of preserving angular momentum.

Why interested?

Some controllers are designed to adapt the way that machines work, to train people inputing information efficiently in the way that machines understand. For example, typewriter and joystick. On the contrary, some devices are designed to adapt human‘s natural action. For example, touch screen, VR controller. In those case, collecting and processing users' movement data become important. I am personally interested in making projects that give people digital or physical feedback based on their natural daily behavior. Also most of my previous tangible projects are created based on this logic.

Accelerometer and gyroscope are motion sensors that can be used in capturing users' movement action. In the same time, there are more advanced motion tracking techniques and equipment like Mo-Sys, Ncam. I want to learn about accelerometer and gyroscope in order to understand its advantages and limitation comparing other motion tracking devices, and also to think about its relationship between gesture design in interaction design.

How it work?


There are two ways where accelerometers work; Piezoelectric effect, and Change in Capacitance.


A typical gyroscope contains a rotor that’s suspended inside three rings called the gimbals.

It works through the precession effect, allowing gyroscopes to defy gravity when the spin-axis is rotated. This means that instead of falling over from the force of gravity, it automatically adjusts itself sideways.


Mems accelerometers are designed for easy integration with Arduino or other microcontrollers these days, with common ones being the ADXL sensor series (popular ones being ADXL345, ADXL335).

With its miniaturized sensors, Mems accelerometers are applicable for IoT usages, low-power, industrial and automotive applications, healthcare, etc.

MEMS Gyroscopes are small miniaturized sensors designed possible through integrating MEMS (Micro-Electro-Mechanical-System) technology into it. This allows for the functionality of gyroscopes to be utilized in a smaller package!

Similarly to MEMS accelerometers, with such technology, it allows for a lower cost, lower power, and applicability with your Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and more!

Sensor Selection Guide

  • sensor performance

  • power consumption

  • combined functionality

  • communication protocol


3/6/9/10 Axis Motion Sensors

3 axis motion sensor - Accelerometer(X,Y,Z)

6 axis motion sensor - Accelerometer(X,Y,Z) + Groscope(X,Y,Z)

9 axis motion sensor - Accelerometer(X,Y,Z) + Groscope(X,Y,Z) + Magnetic(X,Y,Z)

10 axis motion sensor - Accelerometer(X,Y,Z) + Groscope(X,Y,Z) + magnetometer(X,Y,Z) + Atmospheric pressure sensor(for measuring Hight)