8 things your smartphone can do that you didn’t know

Barometer, gyroscope, magnetometer and other unexpected uses for your smartphone.

These devices can do many things and the new models arrive with more and more integrated sensors. The interesting thing is that if you know how to harness and manipulate this technology, you can open up new ways of living as smart as your cell phone. Luckily there are already specialized applications that can do this for you, and here we tell you which sensors that are probably already on your phone you can give them a new use.

1. Light sensor: A smartphone’s light sensor measures ambient light levels and adjusts screen brightness based on that to save battery life. Some specialized applications can use this sensor to give a metric reading of the light, which could be useful for photographers who want to know the exact lighting conditions.

2. Barometer: The newest smartphones include a barometer that determines the atmospheric pressure of the environment. Some applications can use this reading to calculate the altitude at which you are, since the higher you are, the less pressure there is. Mountaineers may find this useful for keeping track of the elevation of the trail.

Barometer readings can also help you predict the weather, as a drop in atmospheric pressure often signals the impending arrival of a storm. Collecting readings from a sufficient number of cell phones in a particular area can help make more accurate weather forecasts locally.

3. Microphone: All cell phones have a built-in microphone to transmit your voice during calls. Many applications use this microphone to perform voice recognition functions, for example to allow you to send text messages by speaking instead of typing, a useful feature while driving.

Others may use the microphone to sample a part of a song to identify its name. And there are even applications that use the microphone to detect the sounds you make while you sleep and thus start recording: the goal? Reveal once and for all if you are a sleepwalker or if you talk in your sleep.

4. Proximity sensor: The phone is so smart that it knows to lock the touchscreen while you speak into its ear. As you know? Proximity sensors are commonly found on smartphone touch screens. They detect how close the phone is to neighboring surfaces.

When we hold the phone close to our face during a call, the sensor locks the touch screen to prevent accidental tapping with our ear or cheek. Some applications use this sensor with other functionality: they allow you, for example, to unlock the screen, activate music or control other functions with just a movement of your hands in front of the sensor.
Others use it to count push-ups while exercising.

5. Gyroscope: Many of the newer cell phone models include a gyroscope, or gyroscope, which uses the force of Earth’s gravity to measure the phone’s orientation. App developers have used the gyroscope to create games and augmented reality experiences, for example by showing you constellations when you look up at the night sky. In addition, you can also download applications that turn your cell phone into a leveler, very useful for those jobs around the house.

6. Accelerometer: Accelerometers are also found in many smartphones already on the market.
These sensors detect the vibrations generated when the phone is moved, and perceive each jolt or wobble to measure the phone’s tilt.

Apps that use the accelerometer to give vibration readings can be useful, for example, to find out how smooth a car is during a test drive. Used as a seismograph, it could measure ground tremors and even form part of an earthquake early warning system, as long as there are enough users to collect and send this information.

7. Magnetometer: Most smartphones have a built-in sensor that measures the Earth’s magnetic field and can pinpoint north, like a compass. This, combined with a GPS receiver, helps determine where you are on a map and which direction you’re facing.

In addition to this feature, some apps can turn your phone’s magnetometer into a metal detector.
They can make the magnetometer respond to metals like nickel, iron, and steel, and could be useful for determining if there are wires behind a wall or even finding lost items behind the couch.

8.GPS Receiver: This is perhaps the best known function. Many people rely on their smartphones to get their bearings. The GPS chip inside the cell phone detects radio signals from various satellites orbiting the earth to calculate its exact position.

In addition to pinpointing your location on a map, some apps use your phone’s GPS receiver to give you precise information, such as the location of your photos in case you forget where you took them, or where you parked your car, particularly useful for clueless behind the wheel.

Taken from BBC