Accelerometers Measure How You Move

Dennis Faas's picture

At first glance, the Fitbit Tracker looks like an ordinary exercise device used for counting steps, recording calories burned, etc. However, the small gadget has received a great deal of attention from many of the tech industry's major players.

What makes the Fitbit Tracker so special?

It is the first of its kind to use accelerometers for data extraction purposes. In a nutshell, accelerometers are chips that measure acceleration, movement and gravity forces. This is what fuels popular motion-sensitive products like the Nintendo Wii and Apple iPhone. The cost of implementing an accelerometer chip into a device is about $1, but having one makes a product seem "hi-tech". (Source:

The Fitbit Tracker also monitors the sleeping patterns of an individual. Now, users can check how long it took them to fall asleep the night before and at what intervals they tossed and turned.

Accelerometers are nothing new in the tech world, but their recent influence in how established products are constantly reinventing themselves has once again shone a light on the small (but powerful) chips. While accelerometers have been used in everything from airplanes to automobiles, they are most prevalent in computers.

In laptops, the chips have the ability to sense when a person has dropped their machine and automatically attempts to put the computer to sleep before the inevitable crash, saving important data that would probably be lost as a result of the accident.

What's next for accelerometers?

Video game fans will be happy to discover that accelerometers are set to dictate just how the future of game playing is controlled. Inspired by the popular iPhone, new games released on most mobile phones will not have any control buttons. Rather, users will use their index fingers to point, drag and shake their way past endless levels of entertainment. (Source:

Accelerometers are also set to appear in new models of the Apple iPod Touch, where users can tap along to their favorite songs through simulated cow bell, tambourine and hand clapping sounds.

The Fitbit Tracker is expected to be released in January 2009 and will retail for just under $100 USD.

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