Combining Motion Sensors in Your Motion Product

In my last blog post, we discussed different motion sensors available for your product to begin tracking motions. Like we mentioned before, these four motion sensors are the accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, and barometer.


In this post, I'm going to look at the two most common combinations of motion sensors.


Combining accelerometer and gyroscope


Through combining an accelerometer and gyroscope an overall device orientation and rotation rate can be established through a metric called a Quaternion. For the purpose of capturing a defined motion path, the quaternion output can be used in tandem with the raw data produced by the gyroscope or accelerometer. 


Using both these sensors can help establish a plethora of different movements, for example: tracking a baseball pitchers throw speed and form. In this example, making improvements to a pitcher's form and throw would be incredibly useful. In fact, we can take this a step further and use pitching motions to track stress levels applied to the elbow to prevent UCL injuries.


pitching UCL tracker

Track a pitcher's movements to determine speed, form, and injury risk


Another great example of using both these sensors would be lean manufacturing on any factory floor. These two sensors in tandem can track almost anything that you want, and are always a safe bet to work in tandem.


Combining accelerometer, gyroscope and barometer


Bringing together an accelerometer, gyroscope and barometer provides a robust data structure to identify even more specific motions. Not only do you have acceleration, but also rotation and pressure (or height) change. What kind of wearable should utilize all three of these sensors you ask? A complex stick movement in hockey, or a full basketball training solution would be perfect. 


basketball motion sensor

Improve your game with motion recognition sensors


Plenty of sensors, plenty of options


Each motion sensor has quite a bit of potential, with the most under-utilized (in terms of functionality and not abundance) being the accelerometer for the time being. As second generation devices come to market gyroscopes and barometers will also increase their presence in wearable technologies .


There are a variety of companies on the market which provide motion sensors, the leaders being Invensense, ST Microelectronics, Bosch, and Freescale Semiconductor.  Each of these works well in their own regard. The best solution, however, is to find a motion sensor which integrates well with your chosen microcontroller, as doing so will help in reducing the firmware development timeline.


One last thing to remember, the most important thing to any motion product is the motion you want to capture. Make sure that you choose the right motion sensor based on which motions you want to track!


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