Smartphone Physics

Today’s smartphone is a versatile little machine. It contains a variety of sensors that constantly monitor the state of the phone to adjust its behavior. For example, the accelerometer checks the orientation of the phone to switch between landscape and portrait modes of display, the temperature sensor guards against overheating, and the light sensor measures the amount of ambient light to dim or brighten the display accordingly.

Together with a physics student (Drew Goldstein), I have been developing a set of simple physics activities that involve these sensors for illustrating a few important concepts in kinematics. Among various apps for accessing the sensors, we liked the Physics Toolbox. This software was created by Vierya Software company ( with the goal of harnessing the power of mobile sensors and enhancing science education. It is available for free.

I will make the worksheets available within the next few months. This project was generously funded by “Verizon Integration of Technology Into Higher Education Grant” of Independent College Fund of New Jersey.