Some new research by iSuppli has an interesting implication–sparked by the iPhone’s innovations, accelerometers are going to be the thing to have in cell phones over the next year. In fact, one in three phones will have them.
The tiny semiconductor accelerometers are based on Microelectromechanical Systems technology, and they’re responsible for the physical gesture-based features of the iPhone like automatic landscape/portrait detection and the “shake to undo” ability in the new iPhone firmware. But MEMS accelerometers are also used in car airbag systems, in devices like the Amazon Kindle to detect its orientation, and in the Wiimote as a sophisticated motion-detector system for gaming–a use that’s revolutionized console gaming, and spawned clones.
According to iSuppli, the trend of including accelerometers in smartphones and simpler devices is only going to increase. It’s pretty obvious, given that Palm’s Pre has one, along with HTC’s recent Android phones. But actually Sony Ericsson is a chief suspect in this, since 18 out of its 19 new phones have the capability, while apparently LG and Samsung are also thinking the same way.
And, if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Like the rise of touchscreen technology, which is also expected to become ubiquitous, accelerometers are just one extra way to interact with our sophisticated mobile devices. As they themselves become more powerful, we actually need cleverer ways to interact with them. It’s a future long-predicted in sci-fi, and it’s basically about to become as revolutionary a way to control electronics as the Windows Icons Mice and Pointers technology was when it first appeared. You’d better get used to shaking and wiggling many more digital things.