Gyroscope Sensor Working and Its Applications

Microelectromechanical systems, popularly known as MEMS, is the technology of very small electromechanical and mechanical devices. Advance in MEMS technology has helped us to develop versatile products. Many of the mechanical devices such as Accelerometer, Gyroscope, etc… can now be used with consumer electronics. This was possible with MEMS technology. These sensors are packaged similarly to other IC’s. Accelerometers and Gyroscopes compliment each other so, they are usually used together. An accelerometer measures the linear acceleration or directional movement of an object, whereas Gyroscope Sensor measures the angular velocity or tilt or lateral orientation of the object. Gyroscope sensors for multiple axes are also available.

What is A Gyroscope Sensor?

Gyroscope sensor is a device that can measure and maintain the orientation and angular velocity of an object. These are more advanced than accelerometers. These can measure the tilt and lateral orientation of the object whereas accelerometer can only measure the linear motion.

Gyroscope sensors are also called as Angular Rate Sensor or Angular Velocity Sensors. These sensors are installed in the applications where the orientation of the object is difficult to sense by humans.

Measured in degrees per second, angular velocity is the change in the rotational angle of the object per unit of time.

Gyroscope Sensor
Gyroscope Sensor

Gyroscope Sensor Working Principle

Besides sensing the angular velocity, Gyroscope sensors can also measure the motion of the object. For more robust and accurate motion sensing, in consumer electronics Gyroscope sensors are combined with Accelerometer sensors.

Depending on the direction there are three types of angular rate measurements. Yaw- the horizontal rotation on a flat surface when seen the object from above, Pitch- Vertical rotation as seen the object from front, Roll- the horizontal rotation when seen the object from front.

The concept of Coriolis force is used in Gyroscope sensors. In this sensor to measure the angular rate, the rotation rate of the sensor is converted into an electrical signal. Working principle of Gyroscope sensor can be understood by observing the working of Vibration Gyroscope sensor.

This sensor consists of an internal vibrating element made up of crystal material in the shape of a double – T- structure. This structure comprises a stationary part in the center with ‘Sensing Arm’ attached to it and ‘Drive Arm’ on both sides.

This double-T-structure is symmetrical. When an alternating vibration electrical field is applied to the drive arms, continuous lateral vibrations are produced. As Drive arms are symmetrical, when one arm moves to left the other moves to the right, thus canceling out the leaking vibrations. This keeps the stationary part at the center and sensing arm remains static.

When the external rotational force is applied to the sensor vertical vibrations are caused on Drive arms. This leads to the vibration of the Drive arms in the upward and downward directions due to which a rotational force acts on the stationary part in the center.

Rotation of the stationary part leads to the vertical vibrations in sensing arms. These vibrations caused in the sensing arm are measured as a change in electrical charge. This change is used to measure the external rotational force applied to the sensor as Angular rotation.

Types

With the advance in technology highly accurate, reliable and miniature devices are being manufactured. More accurate measurements of orientation and movement in a 3D space became possible with the integration of the Gyroscope sensor. Gyroscopes are also available in different sizes with different performances.

Based on their sizes, Gyroscope sensors are divided as small and large-sized. From large to small the hierarchy of Gyroscope sensors can be listed as Ring laser gyroscope, Fiber-optic gyroscope, Fluid gyroscope, and Vibration gyroscope.

Being small and more easy to use Vibration gyroscope is most popular. The accuracy of vibration gyroscope depends upon the stationary element material used in the sensor and structural differences. So, manufacturers are using different materials and structures to increase the accuracy of vibration gyroscope.

Types of Vibration Gyroscope

For Piezoelectrical transducers, materials like crystal and ceramics are used for the stationary part of the sensor. Here for crystal material structures like double-T- structure, Tuning Fork and H-shaped tuning fork are used. When ceramic material is used prismatic or columnar structure is chosen.

Characteristics of the Vibration Gyroscope sensor includes scale factor, temperature-frequency coefficient, compact size, shock resistance, stability and noise characteristics.

Gyroscope Sensor in Mobile

To facilitate a good user experience nowadays smartphones are embedded with various types of sensors. These sensors also provide phone information about its surroundings and also helps in increased battery life.

Steve Jobs was the first to use Gyroscope technology in consumer electronics. Apple iPhone was the first smartphone o have Gyroscope sensor technology. With the help of gyroscope in the smartphone, we can detect motion and gestures with our phones. Smartphones usually have an electronic version of the Vibration Gyroscope sensor.

Gyroscope Sensor Mobile App

Gyroscope Sensor app helps to detect the tilt and orientation of the mobile phone. Gyroscope Sensor app is useful for old smartphones which don’t have a Gyroscope sensor.

An app such as GyroEmu an Xposed module makes use of accelerometer and magnetometer present on the phone to simulate a Gyroscope Sensor. Gyroscope Sensor is mostly used on the smartphone for playing high technology AR games.

Applications

Gyroscope Sensors are used for versatile applications. Ring laser Gyros are used in Aircraft and Source shuttles whereas Fiber optic Gyros are used in racecars and motorboats.

Vibration Gyroscope sensors are used in the car navigation systems, Electronic stability control systems of vehicles, motion sensing for mobile games, camera-shake detection systems in digital cameras, radio-controlled helicopters, Robotic systems, etc…

The main functions of the Gyroscope Sensor for all the applications are Angular velocity sensing, angle sensing, and control mechanisms. Image blurring in cameras can be compensated by using Gyroscope Sensor-based optical image stabilization system.

By understanding their behavior and characteristics developers are designing many efficient and low-cost products such as gesture-based control of the wireless mouse, directional control of wheel-chair, a system to control external devices using gesture commands, etc…

Many new applications are being created which are changing the way we can use our gestures as commands to control devices. Some of the Gyroscope Sensors available in the market are MAX21000, MAX21001, MAX21003, MAX21100. Which mobile app. have you used to simulate Gyroscope Sensor on your mobile phone?

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