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What is a Wireless Accelerometer?

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  • Written By: Mal Baxter
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 21 September 2016
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A wireless accelerometer is an electronics device that can detect physical movement in the form of acceleration, inclination, or vibration. These devices can be used in manufacturing processes and scientific research, as well as in household products. Wireless refers to networking computers without the use of wires; instead, these devices use microwaves or radio waves to communicate between transmitters and receivers. Wireless networks link accelerometers to other technology or equipment in order to create systems for specific purposes, such as monitoring systems or manufacturing processes.

Embedded into a small or large scale installation, a wireless accelerometer communicates acceleration data for use with computer analysis and other systems. These devices can function to detect data in areas that might be too dangerous or costly for direct observation. They might be connected by a radio frequency network to a network access point that links to a local area network (LAN) or other host controller application. The devices can provide early warning in time-to-failure equipment, or provide monitoring of remote, satellite, or other critical equipment.

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A wireless accelerometer is capable of detecting even the slightest movement or vibration, from the acoustical energy of sound to seismic activity. The technology precisely measures movement accelerations, the increase and decrease of speed along a vector, by converting movement into voltage. It does this through the use of various techniques, such as measuring piezoresistive effects or voltage variances in flexible silicon microstructures. A unit might contain piezoelectric and temperature sensors, data memory, and a digital signal processor, sending data through its wireless transceiver, antenna, and battery technology. It can be deployed to monitor condition-based maintenance, vibration analysis and monitoring, and machine diagnostics, among other things.

There are two primary types of accelerometer: analog and digital. These depend upon the outputs required by the technology in which the devices will operate. Analog, or mechanical types, serve airbags and laptops from sudden changes in speed, to protect by deploying airbags or shutting down hard drives. Digital accelerometers use voltage changes to produce a direct output signal; these can be found in high-demand applications such as missile systems and cargo transportation. Wireless accelerometer technology might be used in traffic control systems and navigation, as well as household electronics like cell phones and music players.

A wireless accelerometer functions by measuring movement along one, two, or three axes. Some require firm placement on their targets for accurate readings, as well as calibration against Earth's gravity. These g force measuring devices can track animal migrations and marine life behavior; the dynamic monitoring of building demolitions and earthquakes; and add functionality to computer tablets and video games. By providing instantaneous acceleration data to a computer network or control system, the applications of this technology can deliver increased safety, enhanced motion analysis, and precise coordination of components.

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