Smartphone Sensors Unlocked


Smartphone advancements have made them become increasingly impactful in interacting with the surrounding world. Today’s smart phones boast a variety of functional units and friendly operating systems making them eminently suitable for smart technological applications.

Mobile phone sensing has seen a major advance with the use of inertial magnetic sensors, earphones, cameras, and Wi-Fi or 3G. Ultrasonic scanning, 3D scanning, and detection of chemicals also play an important part.

Sensing applications for smartphones include personal, group, and community sensing. Sensing software developed for smartphones tend to provide both convenience and pleasure. Partometer, for example, is a smartphone measurement app which can measure angles in pictures and photos.

Today, lot of camera measurement tools can be downloaded from Google Play. Using mobile phone sensing devices for collecting health data and environmental monitoring is ever increasing. Sensors can monitor ultraviolet index, heart rate, respiratory rate, blood oxygen saturation and air.

According to a review on fabrication and application of mobile phone sensors published in 2016 issue of Science Bulletin, smartphone sensors can be classified as electromagnetic sensors, audio-frequency sensors, optical sensors, electrochemical sensors, and others. The future development of smartphone sensing and perspectives are also summarized in this review.

A smart home system has been developed by Prof. Niu’s research group, which consists of a homebuilt electrochemical workstation, gas sensors and a mobile phone programmed with specific software. CO2, CO, O2, NH3, formaldehyde, VOC, PM2.5, SO2, H2S, NO2, NO, temperature and humidity are detected by smartphones and instantly communicated via the Internet. It can communicate over the Internet for information exchange and communication for intelligent identification, monitoring and management. The IoT will be widely applied in industrial production, smart homes, intelligent security, environmental protection, medical diagnosis, and biotechnology.

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The development of smartphone sensing depends on various technologies including microelectronics, software, and communications. In the future, mobile phone devices will benefit from (i) having better operating systems to achieve data acquisition and processing by inexperienced users, (ii) improvements in access point technology for increased processing power and reduced power consumption, (iii) improved smart display technology with more power efficiency and flexibility, (iv) new sensor types to acquire various new physical quantities, (v) faster battery charging, wireless battery charging, and adaptive battery management, (vi) advances in material technology to enable a new generation of lighter, more flexible, and durable devices, (vii) trends in web technology to make data transformation more universal, convenient, and rapid, (vii) expansion of cloud services to permit online data storage and data sharing between different users, (ix) the development of user interfaces that can use gestures and retina tracking, an infrared keyboard, and context-aware user interfaces, and (x) faster mobile network capabilities.


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