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Top Mobile Sensor Devices for Physics Ed

January 21, 2016

We frequently get questions from users about what we think are the best mobile sensor devices on the market. While a simple Google search will reveal the capabilities of any specific device, we'll break it down for you for the most common of the quarter of a million Android devices in existance - yes, you read that right! in contrast, if you are an iOS user, you pretty much get to select from the one new model. 

 

 

Among Android, there's a lot of variability. Let's start with the basics. 

 

Amazon Fire

This tablet can run for as little as $35-$50. While it's only touted as having an accelerometer, don't

 

overlook the fact that it has a microphone (sound meter) and camera. It is also useful for tone production and color screen generation. While this might limit its utility a bit, it's an unbeatable tool, when a science education acceleration probe (apart from the software) might run on the order of $90-$100 alone.

 

Galaxy Note5 & Galaxy S6

Nexus 5X & Nexus 6P

HTC One M9

LG G4 & LG V10

Moto X 2015

 

On the other end of the spectrum, most smartphones are equipped with similar hardware and sensor capabilities. All of the above listed smartphones include your basics, such as an accelerometer,

barometer, gyroscope, light sensor, magnetometer, and microphone. 

 

There are, however, a few notable exceptions. If you are in need of special tools,  acquire a Galaxy Note 4 for all of the above sensors, plus an ultra violet sensor and HRM (Heart Rate Monitor) - note, however, that few HRM apps exist, although the Galaxy Note 4 does have a pre-recorded app that allows you to see live HRM data and save to their cloud service. Although it lacks the UV and HRM sensors of the Note 4, the Galaxy s4 will get you both an external thermometer and a hygrometer in addition to the sensors of most other flagship Android phones.
 

iPhone 6s & iPad Air2 & iPad Pro

Apple users of these devices all get an accelerometer, gyroscope, barometer, light sensor, magnetometer, and microphone,like most Android devices. However, iOS does not allow for developers to access the light sensor, so no apps are available to read, display, or store that data. Users of the iPhone 6s can hopefully soon benefit from the new 3-D touchcapability, which effectively allows the phone to be turned into an electronic force meter or mass balance. However, although multiple

 

developers have attempted to make apps to take advantage of this feature, the apps have been rejected from the Apple store due to concerns that such use could be dangerous for the device.

 

Will Vieyra Software develop apps for iOS?

We absolutely recognize the need for parallel apps in Android and iOS; this is vital for them to increase their relevance through the use of personal devices as sensor tools for education and industry! However, we also recognize that the majority of smartphone users (beyond the U.S.) own Android devices, especially in the developing world. While we do have some limited versions of Physics Toolbox Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Magnetometer, and Tone Generator for iOS, they are not nearly as robust as our Android apps. We will work to bridge the gap between our Android and iOS apps as we improve our iOS development skills.

 

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