What is Motion Sensor Calibration – In-depth Answer

Motion sensor calibration involves using specialized tools such as gyroscopes, magnetometers, and accelerometers in detecting and measuring changes in the behavior of sensors. Since the introduction of smartphones, technologists no longer design special devices to measure movements. Instead, those measurement sensors were incorporated into smartphones.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Due to the minute nature of sensors, they are not very much appreciated for their functionality. Most of the features in computer devices, as we see today, are only possible, thanks to sensors. In this article, you will get to learn how to calibrate your Android phones and other devices.

What Does Calibrate Sensor Mean?

A motion sensor is a tiny device designed for monitoring and measuring movements like shake, tilt, swing, and rotation. These measurements are prompted by the action of a user.

Motion sensors are built to give back multi-dimensional values for every measurement they record. For instance, when a motion sensor like an accelerometer, notices any movement, it will give back the result for three coordinate axes.

It is noteworthy that a motion sensor in itself is not a monitoring device. However, it can be used together with a number of specialized sensors like a geomagnetic field system to measure the position of a device in relation to a globally recognized frame of reference.

Furthermore, gravity sensors and rotation vector sensors are the most common sensors used in motion detection and tracking. The latter is particularly useful in detecting and monitoring a broad spectrum of movements ranging from gestures, angular changes, and relative orientation changes.

Rotational vector sensors are great for developing video games, camera applications, augmented reality systems, as well as 2D and 3D compasses. Rotational vector sensors are much better for these types of projects than accelerometers and orientation sensors.

What are the Types of Sensors Used for Calibration?

The types of sensors used for calibration include:

i. Accelerometer

ii. Gyroscope

iii. Magnetometer

iv. High-level sensor

Let’s take a broader look at them…

Accelerometer

As the name implies, an accelerometer is a device that measures variation in acceleration. An accelerometer, under the influence of gravity, detects and records movements in three directions.

One very important thing to note about accelerometers is that they are inertial-frame sensors. What this means is that if you drop a device to fall under the influence of gravity, the acceleration will be zero in the direction of its free fall.

However, if you lay that device on a flat surface, the accelerometer will record an acceleration that’s equivalent to the Earth’s gravity, which is 9.8 m/s2.

The truth is, an accelerometer can hardly work on its own. It needs to be in the company of other sensors, thereby forming a fusion. These types of sensors are called fusion sensors.

Sometimes, developers may want to record and measure only the linear acceleration, neglecting the impact of gravity. This process is known as gravity compensation. Other times, developers may want to get only the isolated gravity field readings, in a bid to find the gravity vector, which can come in handy when you want to create a magnetic compass.

An accelerometer is designed to measure only the changes in acceleration while filtering out noises. To do this, you need high-pass and low-pass filters. While the former isolates the noise, the former does the measurement.

But the sad thing about these filters is that they can cause a delay in recording, which can affect the measurement negatively.

Gyroscope

What is a Gyroscope?

Gyroscopes are sensors developed to detect and measure changes in angular velocity in relation to its movement. This is made possible by the action of a force known as the Coriolis Effect. For a gyroscope to detect and measure the changes in its angular velocity, it needs to be oscillating at a very high frequency.

Hence, gyroscopes are described as “power-hungry sensors.” Also, note that a gyroscope recording is usually affected by vibrations from other bodies such as a speaker on that particular hardware device.

Furthermore, for a sensor to be able to calibrate motion correctly, it has to apply what is called drift compensation on a hardware device with low frequency.

Magnetometer

Another type of low-level motion sensor is a magnetometer. It is a magnetic field sensor, and so, it is able to detect the magnetic field of the Earth, even if a strong magnetic presence is far away.

Just like gyroscopes, magnetometers are easily influenced by external forces, which could be any from a slightly magnetized table to the internal components of a computer device. It is for this reason that they are commonly used today.

Once there is no magnetic force around an area, a magnetometer is able to take readings by isolating gravity, just like an accelerometer. In addition, a magnetometer a three-way sensor, which implies that it generates a 3-dimensional vector reading, using the axis with the largest magnetic field as its point of reference.

Furthermore, magnetometers do not require the specific orientation of your computer device for it to function. However, you may need an accelerometer to know the particular position a device is held. In addition, you may need a gyroscope for you to have the most accurate readings.

In hardware developments, magnetometers are commonly used together with other sensors to get a stationary sensor, which acts as a compass.

High-level Sensors

As you have learned, all sensors have their drawbacks like drifts and noises. Hence, the need for an additional sensor to compensate. In essence, the reading you get from one sensor is often questionable. So you need several sensors for more accurate readings.

The thing is, sensors need power to function, and so, the more sensors you use, the more power you need. Gyroscopes, as mentioned earlier, are more consume more power because they move at a higher frequency when measuring angular velocity.

Hence, you have to know the required group of sensors that will help you give the most accurate readings. Thanks to the technology of sensor fusion, most phones today can perform better in terms of power consumption and specifications.

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What are the Methods of Calibrating a Motion Sensor?

The following methods will help in calibrating the motion sensors of a device:

i. Through the inbuilt calibration features of a phone

ii. Google Play Store

iii. Perform a factory reset

iv. Root the phone

Through the Inbuilt Calibration Features of a Phone

Perhaps, the most straightforward way to calibrate your smartphone is by doing it through the inbuilt calibration features of that device. For most Android devices, the calibration features can be accessed by going to the “Settings.” You just have to follow the on-screen instructions, and in less than a minute, the sensor of your phone will be calibrated.

If you are not sure if your smartphone has a calibration feature, you can check out the user’s manual provided by the manufacturer or type “Calibration” in the search box of your device’s “Settings” menu.

Google Play Store

How Does Google Play Store Help in Calibration of a Phone?

An effective way to calibrate the motion sensor of your phone is by downloading an application from the Google Play Store. This is an alternative if your phone does not have an inbuilt calibration feature.

While some of these apps are free, others are not. Fortunately, though, the free motion sensor calibration apps will be more than able to perform any type of sensor calibration you want for your device. Some examples of free calibration apps include Accelerometer Calibration, Proximity Sensor Reset, and Quick TuneUp-Phone Calibration.

Perform a Factory Reset

If for some reason your phone does not come with calibration options, and you can’t seem to find an app to help you calibrate your phone, all hope is not lost. You can reset the factory settings of that device.

Although, not everyone will be comfortable with this option because they may lose some files and personalization, even after a backup, but it can help you recalibrate the sensors of your phone automatically.

Root the Phone

Rooting your smartphone is another way of calibrating it. Once your device is rooted, you can download apps like Xposed Modules and Proximity Sensor Fixer to customize and calibrate the sensors on your device.

Also, note that these apps only run on rooted devices, so ensure that yours is rooted before you download and install any of them.

The motion sensor calibration of a phone or laptop is performed for a lot of reasons. While some persons may think it’s unnecessary, it is essential that your device calibrated if something is not functioning correctly.

Calibration can help you detect the problem your device is facing. It is noteworthy that the way you go about calibration is determined by the brand of your smartphone.

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How Do I Calibrate My LG Phone?

To calibrate an LG phone, follow these steps:

i. Go to the “Settings” menu and click it

ii. Click on the “Display” option located at the top of the screen.

iii. After that, scroll down and click on the “More” tab.

iv. When it opens, carefully place your LG G5 device on a table or any available flat surface.

v. Tap the “Calibrate Sensor” icon located at the bottom of the screen.

vi. After that, wait for the calibration process to be completed.

If you are perhaps one of those wondering how do I calibrate my Android phone, then pay close attention to this section. We will walk you through the process of calibrating an LG G5 Android phone.

First of all, the LG G5 smartphone comes with motion sensor calibration options. That said, if you realize that the sensors are not less or more sensitive than you want, you can calibrate them.

The sensors built into smartphones perform several functions like tracking your fitness performance as you do push-ups, jogs, jumps, and weight-lifting. Accelerometers and gyroscopes can detect when your device is tilted, which comes in handy when playing games.

If you discover that some of these functions are not working as they should on your LG G5, then all you have to do is go to the motion sensor calibration option in your device and calibrate it. Moreover, you can also use some third-party apps for your GPS and compass calibration.

This is quite an impressive feat for the LG G5 smartphone because some even more expensive devices do not have inbuilt calibration options in their operating systems.

As we have pointed out earlier, several things are responsible for making the readings of the sensors in a device inaccurate. A faulty sensor is quite easy to detect, especially if it’s a motion-type sensor when you experience glitches in switching to portrait or landscape mode on your phone or inaccurate result output for games and fitness activities.

As mentioned in the above steps, you will need to follow the on-screen guide to calibrate the motion sensors of your device. These instructions are very easy to understand, so you don’t have to panic. In fact, with the graphics illustrations boldly displayed on your screen, even an Android novice can perform the calibration without any kind of assistance.

Again, as we mentioned earlier, you have to ensure that your LG G5 is laid on a smooth and flat surface. If that is not done, the calibration of your sensors will not be correct. Meanwhile, once you place your smartphone on the appropriate location, a dialogue box will be shown, with which you can start the calibration process.

Also, note that calibration only lasts for about a few seconds. If that is too long you, or you have something equally important to do, you can minimize your screen, and the calibration will continue unhindered.

That said, if, after calibration, the sensor issues persist, then repeat the process for about 3 to 4 times. And if after that, nothing changes, don’t try anymore. You may probably be having hardware problems. Also, if the calibration works for like a day or two, and then the sensors return to their faulty state, it is most likely a hardware problem. You just need to take your phone to a repair store.

Video: How to Calibrate the Motion Sensors of the LG G5 Smartphone

This video clearly illustrates how you can calibrate the motion sensors of the LG G5 smartphone. Check it out…

How to Know if Your Motion Sensors are Working?

The following ways will help to check if the motion sensors in a phone are working properly:

i. Check the issue across several applications

ii. Use a diagnostic app

iii. Use hidden tabs and codes

Keep on reading for more details…

Check the Issue Across Several Applications

Sensors are responsible for almost all the functions your phone can perform. Hence, if there is an issue with any one of them, it may hinder your phone from functioning optimally.

Besides, sensors can just stop working now and then. So before you come to the conclusion that they are damaged and take your phone for a repair, you can attempt to solve the problem by calibrating it. If you are observant, you will know when an app that uses a motion sensor starts misbehaving.

This happens when the app starts presenting the wrong data for input. For you to be sure that the sensor is faulty, you need to go online and download several apps developed for that purpose. Thankfully, there are tons of free apps online, so you don’t have to worry about spending your money.

For instance, if you are playing a game that requires you to tilt your screen and the game does not respond to your tilting, try another tilting game to check if there is a similar problem. If the problem isn’t a bug or poor graphics, then the chances are high that it is a motion sensor issue.

The thing is, apart from motion sensors, other sensors can start misbehaving for no clear reason. This could result in reduced battery life and poor display quality.

For instance, if the proximity sensor that optimizes power by putting off your screen display when you are on a call, starts malfunctioning, you should know that you have to calibrate the proximity and display sensor for things to get back to normal.

Use a Diagnostic App

How Do Diagnostic Apps Help in Checking for Calibration?

To use diagnostic apps to check if a smartphone is calibrated, simply go to the “Settings” menu and scroll down until you see an option called “About Phone.” Now, look for “Diagnostic” and click on it. From there, you just have to follow the on-screen instructions to get your phone diagnosed.

This method is a little bit more complicated than checking for similar problems across several apps. There are apps online specially developed to diagnose the sensor problem of any brand of smartphones. An example of such an app is the Sensors Multitool.

Meanwhile, some smartphones, like the Sony Xperia models, feature diagnostic apps that will come in handy when you need to know what’s wrong with your smartphone.

Use Hidden Tabs and Codes

How to Use tabs and Codes to Check for Calibration?

To use tabs and codes to check if a smartphone is properly calibrated, go to the phone’s dialer system app and open it. Once it’s opened, enter some specific set of numbers then. These are secrets numbers to access some hidden settings on your Android device. With these codes, you can diagnose the problem with your sensors, cameras, and audio functions.

One such secret code is *#*#4636#*#*. With this code, you can modify your phone’s usage statistics and a host of other information. In addition, the secret code for Sony Xperia smartphones is *#*#7378423#*#*. This hidden code allows you to diagnose if your phone’s on-screen features are running properly.

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Conclusion

Motion sensor calibration is all about making a device suitable for measuring movements in the form of rotation, swinging, tilting, and shaking.

Once a set of sensors are not working as they should, it is essential that you calibrate them for optimum performance. You can calibrate your Android devices by using the inbuilt calibration option of your phone, or by downloading specially developed apps meant for that purpose.


What is Motion Sensor Calibration – Related FAQs


How Often Should Calibration Be Done?

Motion sensor calibration should be done monthly, quarterly or annually, depending on the usage frequency. The more often a motion sensor is calibrated, the better it works. A good way of calibrating motion sensors at the right time is to use circuits with established readings. Note that different motion sensors come with different calibration frequency. So stick to the manufacturer’s recommendations when calibrating your motion sensors.

Calibrating on a weekly basis tend to create unquestionable test outcomes, which allows for better specifications.


How Do I Recalibrate My Phone’s Battery?

To calibrate an iPhone’s battery, use the device until the battery is drained totally, so it goes off on its own. After that, leave the battery uncharged for another 12 hours to drain it further. Now, plug the iPhone to a power source and allow it to power up. Once the device comes on, switch it off and allow it to charge for 5 hours straight, even though the charge indicator will not be seen.

While the iPhone’s charger is still connected, switch on the device and put it on a force restart mode once it boots. This process should calibrate the iPhone’s battery and it will work accurately.


How Do I Calibrate My iPhone Motion Sensor?

To calibrate an iPhone’s motion sensor, click on the “Settings” icon and tap “Privacy”. After that, click on “Location Services” and scroll down to and select “System Services”. Now, for the calibration proper, switch off the “Motion Calibration and Distance” mode. After that, switch it on again and the calibration should be done.

The other way to calibrate an iPhone’s motion sensor is by downloading any app that has the iPhone’s motion sensor and look for the calibration mode on the app. After that, do a backup, hard reset and restoration of the iPhone files.


Do I Need Compass Calibration on iPhone?

Compass calibration is not a compulsory function on an iPhone. So, iPhone users can disable it if they feel like. The electronic compass in an iPhone display the direction the device user is facing when using navigation apps. The compass calibration mode of a device uses the Location Information data to display accurate results, so the GPS should not be switched off.

The compass calibration screen will pop up when using the Gaia GPS, indicating that the compass requires calibration. Go to the Gaia GPS settings to turn this notification if it is not wanted.


What Does Compass Calibration Mean?

Compass calibration means adjusting the sensors of a device to make components like screws, rotation mode, speaker magnet and touch function better. The compass in a device detects the earth’s magnetic field intensity and point in its direction. However, the compass may misbehave by detecting the wrong direction of the earth’s magnetic poles.

When that happens, calibrating the compass is necessary. If the compass is calibrated correctly, it will be able to accurately detect the actual direction of the magnetic field poles of the earth.


What Does it Mean to Calibrate a Battery?

Calibrating a battery means putting the battery on a full charge, discharge, and recharge cycle. A battery analyzer is needed for calibrating smart batteries. The analyzer works by first charging the battery to its peak and then discharging it while taking required standard readings of the battery’s chemical composition. After the discharge cycle, the analyzer recharges the battery to complete the calibration process.

If a battery is showing the wrong charge level or remaining time, calibrating it will be the best remedy. Battery calibration should be done properly to get the desired results.