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Instrument that measures acceleration. Because it is difficult to measure acceleration directly, the device measures the force exerted by restraints placed on a reference mass to hold its position fixed in an accelerating body. The output is usually either a varying electrical voltage or displacement of a moving pointer over a fixed scale. Specially designed accelerometers are used in varied applications: control of industrial vibration test equipment, detection of earthquakes (seismographs), and input to navigational and inertial guidance systems.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on accelerometer, visit Britannica.com.