The following is the first few sections of a chapter from The Busy Coder's Guide to Android Development, plus headings for the remaining major sections, to give you an idea about the content of the chapter.

Basic Use of Sensors

“Sensors” is Android’s overall term for ways that Android can detect elements of the physical world around it, from magnetic flux to the movement of the device. Not all devices will have all possible sensors, and other sensors are likely to be added over time. In this chapter, we will explore the general concept of Android sensors and how to receive data from them.

Note, however, that this chapter will not get into details of detecting movement via the accelerometer, etc.


Understanding this chapter requires that you have read the core chapters, particularly the chapter on threads. Having experience with other system-service-and-listener patterns, such as fetching locations with LocationManager, is helpful but not strictly required.

The Sensor Abstraction Model

When fetching locations from LocationManager, you do not have dedicated APIs per location-finding technology (e.g., GPS vs. WiFi hotspot proximity vs. cell-tower triangulation vs. …). Instead, you work with a LocationManager system service, asking for locations using a single API, where location technologies are identified by name (e.g., GPS_PROVIDER).

Similarly, when working with sensors, you do not have dedicated APIs to get sensor readings from each sensor. Instead, you work with a SensorManager system service, asking for sensor events using a single API, where sensors are identified by name (e.g., TYPE_LINEAR_ACCELERATION).

Note, though, that there are some dedicated methods on SensorManager to help you interpret some of the sensors, particularly the accelerometer. However, those are merely helper methods; getting at the actual accelerometer data uses the same APIs that you would use to, say, access the barometer for atmospheric pressure.

Considering Rates

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Reading Sensors

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Batching Sensor Readings

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