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Accelerometer vs. Pedometer: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Published on December 29, 2023
An accelerometer is a device that measures acceleration forces, while a pedometer counts steps by detecting motion, typically used for tracking physical activity.

Key Differences

An accelerometer measures the rate of change of velocity, detecting movement in multiple directions. On the other hand, a pedometer specifically counts steps, typically using a mechanical or electronic motion sensor.
Accelerometers are used in various applications, including smartphones, vehicles, and fitness trackers, to sense movement and orientation. Whereas, pedometers are primarily used for health and fitness purposes, such as counting steps and estimating distance walked.
Accelerometers are advanced sensors that can detect acceleration in one, two, or three dimensions. While, pedometers are simpler devices, often using a pendulum mechanism or an electronic sensor to count steps.
Accelerometers can provide detailed data about the intensity and direction of movements. Pedometers focus on counting steps and may not accurately measure non-walking activities or complex motions.
Accelerometers have a wide range of uses beyond counting steps, including fall detection, activity recognition, and vehicle dynamics. Pedometers are specialized for step counting and basic activity tracking.

Comparison Chart


Measures acceleration in various directions
Counts steps

Primary Use

Diverse, including smartphones and fitness trackers
Health and fitness, step counting


Advanced sensors detecting multi-dimensional movement
Simpler step-counting mechanism


High accuracy in movement detection
Accurate for step counting, limited in other areas


Broad applications in various fields
Primarily used for step tracking

Accelerometer and Pedometer Definitions


A sensor that can detect the rate of change of velocity.
The game console uses an accelerometer to respond to your movements.


A tool for measuring walking or running distance.
My pedometer showed I walked five miles today.


An instrument used to detect and measure motion.
We used an accelerometer in our physics experiment to measure the car's speed.


A simple motion sensor used in physical activity tracking.
I clip my pedometer to my belt every morning.


A device that measures acceleration forces.
The smartphone's accelerometer detects when it's turned sideways.


A device that counts each step a person takes.
I use a pedometer to ensure I walk 10,000 steps daily.


A component in devices for orientation and movement detection.
Fitness trackers have an accelerometer to monitor your daily activity.


A fitness accessory that estimates calories burned.
The pedometer also calculates the calories I burn while walking.


A tool in various applications for sensing dynamic forces.
Engineers use accelerometers to measure vibrations in bridges.


A device used for promoting physical activity and health.
Our wellness program encourages using a pedometer for daily exercise.


An instrument used to measure acceleration.


An instrument that gauges the approximate distance traveled on foot by registering the number of steps taken.


An instrument for measuring acceleration.


A device, often electronic, that measures the number of steps taken, and thus estimates the distance walked.
He thought that buying a pedometer would spur him on to exercise.


An instrument made for detecting and measuring vibrations.


(North American) paedometer


An apparatus for measuring the velocity imparted by gunpowder.


An instrument for including the number of steps in walking, and so ascertaining the distance passed over. It is usually in the form of a watch; an oscillating weight by the motion of the body causes the index to advance a certain distance at each step.


An instrument for measuring the acceleration of aircraft or rockets


Measuring instrument for recording the number of steps taken in walking


How does an accelerometer work?

By detecting changes in velocity and direction of movement.

Are accelerometers used in smartphones?

Yes, for orientation and motion-sensing features.

Can accelerometers detect direction?

Yes, they can detect movement in specific directions.

What is an accelerometer?

A device that measures acceleration and motion.

How does a pedometer count steps?

Using a mechanical sensor or electronic motion detector.

Do pedometers need calibration?

Some models may require calibration for more accurate step counts.

Are accelerometers used in fitness trackers?

Yes, for a variety of motion-tracking purposes.

Can a pedometer measure distance?

It estimates distance based on step count.

Can pedometers track running?

Yes, but they are primarily designed for walking.

Are pedometers accurate in step counting?

Generally yes, though accuracy can vary.

What is a pedometer?

A device that counts steps and measures walking distance.

Do modern pedometers track more than steps?

Some also estimate calories burned and distance traveled.

Do accelerometers measure speed?

They measure acceleration, which can infer speed.

Do accelerometers consume a lot of power?

They are generally low-power devices, especially in smartphones and wearables.

Is a smartphone a good replacement for a pedometer?

Many smartphones have built-in pedometers, offering similar functionality.

Can accelerometers measure vibrations?

Yes, they're used to detect vibrations in various applications.

Can accelerometers be used for fall detection?

Yes, they are effective in detecting falls in devices like medical alert systems.

Are pedometers effective for fitness motivation?

Yes, they can be a useful tool for encouraging physical activity.

What's the difference between a 3-axis and a 1-axis accelerometer?

A 3-axis accelerometer measures movement in three dimensions, while a 1-axis measures in one.

How do I wear a pedometer?

Typically on the waistband or in a pocket.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.

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