The iPhone 4 adds to an array of portable sensors which are decreasing in size and increasing in utility. All are built-in and available for instant use. There are free and fee based apps, as well as hardware add-ons that can make use of iPhone sensors. Sensors included on the current iPhone model include an accelerometer, three-axis gyroscope, a proximity sensor, an ambient light sensor, and a proximity sensor. While in the foreseeable future we will see more sensors and usefulness for them, you can make use of these right now.
RadarScope from Base Velocity offers real-time, professional-level national radar data from NOAA’s Doppler radar network. Pinpoint the landfall of a hurricane’s eye wall, or track the severity of a building thunderstorm with data that’s updated every five to ten minutes. Tornado, severe thunderstorm, and flash flood warnings issued by the National Weather Service are one of the newest features in this version. Select from one of 140 radar sites, or pinpoint your own location.
Molecules is an application for the iPhone, iPod touch, and now iPad that allows you to view three-dimensional renderings of molecules and manipulate them using your fingers. You can rotate the molecules by moving your finger across the display, zoom in or out by using two-finger pinch gestures, or pan the molecule by moving two fingers across the screen at once. The combination of the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad’s unique multitouch input system and the built-in OpenGL ES 3-D graphics capabilities enable you to feel like you are manipulating the molecules themselves with your fingers.
SPARKvue by Pasco allows you to collect and analyze data from the iPhone built-in accelerometer. The ability to analyze is more limited than in desktop versions of Pasco software but out of the box, you will be able to measure acceleration and direction.
A search in the iTunes store for spectrum, audio, or frequency analyzers will reveal several relatively low cost apps for real-time or logged analysis.
iCelcius is an add-on temperature probe that extends the capability of your iPhone. While the iPhone app is free, the temperature probe cost is around $40.
iHandy Level is a free app. I have used this app often to for wall hangings or to otherwise check for a level surface. Even with the built-in calibration, I don’t think I’d want to build a house with this app. But it’s just great for everyday applications.
And if you are interested in creating your own apps, the library has resources that can help you learn to program. Our subscription to Safari Tech Books includes many book and video titles including Professional iPhone® Programming with MonoTouch and .NET/C#, iPhone and iPad Apps for Absolute Beginner and Developing iPhone Web Apps.
And to keep up-to-date on the latest developments with all things Apple app related, you might want to browse through our copies of Macworld here in the Kresge library, or online.