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Important Uses For An Accelerometer

An accelerometer is a piece of equipment that is used to measure acceleration forces.  Those forces may be static or […]

An accelerometer is a piece of equipment that is used to measure acceleration forces.  Those forces may be static or dynamic, measuring things like the continuous force of gravity or movement and vibration.

Here are several important uses for an accelerometer over a range of industries.

Medical Uses
In the medical industry, the accelerometer may be used to measure the depth of compressions during CPR.  Anyone who is proficient in CPR or has taken training knows that performing the compressions properly is a key to keeping the patient alive in an emergency situation.

Accelerometers are sometimes used as one aspect of step counters in some countries, to help people measure the number of steps they take each day.  The idea is for people to walk a certain number of steps everyday to improve overall health.
Aircraft instruments collection
The engineering world uses accelerometers in many different applications.  They may be used to measure vehicle performance and acceleration, as well as the vibration of various items like cars or machines.  Some engineers measure seismic activity using this device, which helps when assessing the magnitude of earthquakes or even predicting when an earthquake may strike.

In the manufacturing sector, accelerometers can measure vibrations in machines like rollers, turbines, pumps fans and compressors.  When they are used to measure vibration in a manufacturing setting, they can help to warn of future mechanical failure, which enhances safety and saves the company money.  If problems are detected before the machinery fails completely, they are dealt with and production won’t suffer.

In the world of biology, an accelerometer might be used to measure the activity levels of animals in the wild or a controlled setting while out of sight.  Dynamic body acceleration and the stroke frequency of an animal’s limbs are two elements that are measured.

Things to Consider
When you want to purchase an accelerometer, the first decision you will make is if you want a device with analog or digital outputs.  Analog devices put out a continuous voltage while digital devices rely on pulse width modulation.

Different types of accelerometers have different levels of sensitivity, and the more sensitive your unit is, the easier measurement will be.  Larger signal changes result from greater sensitivity.  The bandwidth, or number of times you can get an accurate acceleration reading per second, is also an important consideration when purchasing an accelerometer.  If you’re going to measure vibration, you will want a bandwidth of several hundred Hz.

Paul Bennett is a freelance writer and marine biologist who has used accelerometers in various studies on dolphins. To ensure all of his studies are accurate, he only trusts the best products produced at Durham Instruments. They offer a variety of products for any industries quantitative measuring needs. For more information, visit

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