Windows 8 Ultrabooks Sense Motion, Light, Sound

Dennis Faas's picture

The installation of special sensors on Windows 8-based ultrabooks could change the portable computing experience forever.

The ultrabook sensors are like those found on some smartphones, and include a compass, an accelerometer, and a gyroscope. A Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver and an ambient light sensor are also likely to be designed into future ultrabooks.

Sensors Provide Directions, Save Vital Components

Ultrabooks with a built-in compass would allow their users to be aware of their direction: North, South, East, and West, at a minimum offering the ability to help those who get lost find their way again. (Source:

At the same time, on-board GPS systems could provide a user their pinpoint location, useful with both mapping and tracking software. GPS-enabled software can also be used to provide navigational directions from one location to another.

An accelerometer and gravity detector allows the computer to sense its own orientation and motion through space. In certain situations this could help to protect an ultrabook's hard drive by disengaging delicate read/write components in the event the ultrabook itself is dropped.

Gyroscope Could be Used for Gaming

A gyroscope, which detects physical movement much like an accelerometer does, could be useful with video games. For those who enjoy enhanced, motion-sensitive gameplay on consoles like the Nintendo Wii, the experience would be similar.

Ambient light sensors (ALS) would give ultrabooks the ability to optimize their own screen brightness for surrounding light conditions.

Some of these sensors can already be found in smartphones and a few select laptops, such as the Samsung Series 9. However, they may well become industry standards for the emerging ultrabook market. (If you own a Windows device and want to see what sensors are equipped, go to the "Sensors" section in the Windows Device Manager.) (Source:

If so, then the number of special applications developed to take advantage of these technologies could expand rapidly, changing how we think about, and what we expect from, the portable computing experience.

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