Android – Accelerometer Basic Usage

Do you want to access the accelerometer (or some other sensor) in your device and use its data in your application? Here is a way of doing that. Let’s see the basic form of an application that monitors changes to the accelerometer sensor:

import android.content.Context;
import android.hardware.Sensor;
import android.hardware.SensorEvent;
import android.hardware.SensorEventListener;
import android.hardware.SensorManager;
import android.os.Bundle;
import android.util.Log;
import android.widget.TextView;

public class TestMain extends Activity implements SensorEventListener{
    private TextView mainText; // here we display accelerometer info
    private SensorManager mySensorManager; // used to acquire sensor access
    private Sensor accSensor; // accelerometer sensor object
    // ...

    public void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {
        mainText = (TextView)findViewById(;

        // Set SensorManager and acquire a reference to accelerometer sensor
        mySensorManager = (SensorManager)getSystemService(
        accSensor = mySensorManager.getSensorList(
        // it may be a good idea to first check the returned Sensor list
        // size to be sure we actually did get an accelerometer reference
        // ...

    // register current SensorEventListener
    protected void onResume()
        mySensorManager.registerListener(this, accSensor,

    // unregister current SensorEventListener
    protected void onStop()

    // receives accuracy changes form sensor
    public void onAccuracyChanged(Sensor sensor, int accuracy) {
        Log.d("TestingArea","onAccuracyChanged: " + sensor +
              " has accuracy: " + accuracy);

    // receives sensor changes
    public void onSensorChanged(SensorEvent event) {
        if (event.sensor.getType() == Sensor.TYPE_ACCELEROMETER)
            mainText.setText("acc x = " + event.values[0] +
                            "\nacc y = " + event.values[1] +
                            "\nacc z = " + event.values[2]);

    // ...
  • We need a SensorManager object to access sensors (we instantiated it in the onCreate() method by using Context method getSystemService(Context.SENSOR_SERVICE)).
  • We use getSensorList() method on the SensorManager object to acquire the sensors we want – we use as parameter  TYPE_ACCELEROMETER to access accelerometer sensor (for others take a look at Sensor documentation).
  • We need a class implementing SensorEventListener to be able to receive accelerometer changes – we use the main Activity as the Listener in this example, other options may be more appropriate in other situations. Try not to use SensorListener interface as it is deprecated!
  • The SensorEventListener must implement two methods – onSensorChanged() and onAccuracyChanged() – and that’s where we’ll receive the accelerometer values.
  • We need to register the Listener with the SensorManager to start receiving accelerometer info. A good place to do that is onResume() method as the Activity could be restarted by orientation change or other events . Also unregistering the Listener when it’s not needed is recommended – a good place to do that is onStop() method.
  • That’s all, we now receive SensorEvents and we can easily get the three axis accelerometer values by using event.values[x] in our onSensorChanged() method.

A full tutorial with in depth examples of Sensors will follow hopefully soon. Stay tuned.

size to be


  1. Hi, I have tried re-using the code above. However it results in the following errors:
    R can not be resolved to a variable: in this line of the code:

    Secondly, another error in the following line: with “id can not be resolved”.
    Please share your opinion on the matter as I am terribly confused by this problem.

    With best regards,

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