Were You Aware of All These Sensors In Your Smartphone?

Nils Forsblom
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Image: © 2015 Adtile Technologies

Smartphones have gone through an incredible evolution in the last decade. We are moving to an era where our smartphones are becoming more like personal assistants, monitoring our behavior, tracking our movements and anticipating our needs. A large part of this evolution is enabled by sensor technology.

Sensors bring intelligence and awareness to our smartphones. Today’s mobile devices are packed with nearly 14 sensors that produce raw data on motion, location and the environment around us. This is made possible by the use of micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS). MEMS are mechanical systems built into tiny semiconductor chips.

Let’s take a look at some of the major sensors in the typical smartphone.

Magnetometer and GPS

Your smartphone comes equipped with a magnetometer, otherwise known as a compass. With its ability to sense magnetic fields, this MEMS device detects compass heading relative to the Earth’s magnetic north pole. In conjunction with GPS, it determines your phone’s location. GPS is another type of sensor in your mobile device. It relies on satellites to determine location. Originally developed for the military, GPS was made available for everyone in the 1980s.


A three-axis gyroscope determines if your device is twisted in any direction. Using rotational force it measures angular velocity around three axes. The absolute orientation of your phone, represented as the angles yaw, pitch, and roll, is detected by a combination of the accelerometer, compass, and gyroscope.


A three-axis accelerometer in your smartphone reports on how fast your phone is moving in any given linear direction. The accelerometer has the ability to detect gravity as a static acceleration as well as dynamic acceleration applied to the phone. There are various types of MEMS accelerometer hardware available, such as microscopic piezoelectric crystals that change voltage under stress when vibrations occur, or differential capacitance caused by the movement of a silicon structure. The magnetometer, GPS, gyroscope and accelerometer on your phone all work together to create the perfect navigation system.

Proximity sensor

Comprised of an infrared LED and an IR light detector, a proximity sensor detects how close the phone is to an outside object, such as your ear. This sensing is done to reduce display power consumption while you’re on a call by turning off the LCD backlight. It also disables the touch screen to avoid inadvertent touches by the cheek.


More advanced smartphones have a chip that can detect atmospheric pressure. But to use it, the phone needs to pull down local weather data for a baseline figure on barometric pressure. What’s more, conditions inside a building, such as heating or air-conditioning flows, can affect the sensor’s accuracy. Barometers are best used in combination with other tools, including GPS, Wi-Fi and beacons.

Other sensors

Your smartphone also has an ambient light sensor to adjust brightness levels in dark environments. A fingerprint sensor can enable secure device and website authentication as well as mobile payment. Add to that list, microphone and camera sensors. Samsung’s Galaxy S6 even has an integrated heart rate monitor.

Sensors raise the consciousness of our smartphones. With mobile sensors becoming smaller and more sophisticated—and new types of sensors coming onto market—what we’re seeing today is only the beginning in the era of self-aware devices. More is waiting around the corner.

Machine Learning And The Future of Mobile Devices

Nils Forsblom
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Machine Learning

Machine learning will play a potent role in the future of mobile devices

As we talked about in a previous blog post, your smartphone is replete with dozens of sensors that collect all kinds of information on three dimensional device movement, positioning and the outside environment. But most of the data those sensors collect comes in a raw form. It has no practical meaning on its own. And that is where machine learning steps in.

What exactly is machine learning? The field is immense with lots of different categories and subdivisions. But let’s start with a common, layman’s definition: Machine learning is a discipline of artificial intelligence that focuses on the development of algorithms that learn from and make decisions based on data.

Or, as machine learning pioneer Arthur Samuel defined it, machine learning is a “field of study that gives computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed.”

You may not be aware of it, but almost everything that happens online is driven by a type of machine learning algorithm. When you do a search, machine learning chooses the results you get. Amazon uses machine learning to recommend products. Netflix uses it to recommend movies. And Facebook and Twitter use it to choose which posts to show you.

Additionally, both Google Now and Siri rely on machine learning to recognize speech input and respond quickly to user commands. And facial recognition software Affectiva also uses machine learning.

Machine learning plays a big part in how intelligent our mobile devices are and how they interact with us. We believe machine learning will play an even bigger role in the future of mobile devices — and that is some of what we are working on at Adtile.

As machine learning algorithms become increasingly sophisticated, they will change how our mobile devices interact with us — our mobile devices will recognize gesture, motions and movement to higher degrees of accuracy and respond to our needs in ways we never imagined possible.

Machine learning algorithms have the potential to give personality to our mobile apps and devices. In future blog posts, we’ll talk more about how machine learning and sensors are working together to improve people’s lives, their health and their mobile experiences.

How Adtile Motion Store differs from HTML5 ad builders

Nils Forsblom
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Adtile Motion Store

I get a lot of questions about how Adtile Motion Store differs from HTML5 ad builders, so I thought I’d address those in a blog post.

If you’re not already familiar, an HTML5 ad builder is for creating display or rich media cross-screen ads — the static, animated, and video ads you see in mobile apps and Web browsing. You assemble the ad by dragging and dropping simple shapes, imported media, and HTML widgets and gizmos onto a blank canvas.

Now let’s address the Motion Store, why it’s a completely different animal, and why sensory Motion Ads are the future of mobile advertising.

Tapping into sensors

HTML5 ad builders are great for building standard rich media ads that run across screens, on desktop and mobile. But if you want to create a sensor-enabled ad specifically built for the mobile environment, look to the Motion Store.

The Motion Store is a do-it-yourself platform that makes it possible for anyone, regardless of their programming ability or design knowledge, to build an elegant, sophisticated Motion Ad.

A Motion Ad behaves more like a game or mini app than an ad. It does so by leveraging the various motion and location sensors within a mobile device to accurately detect a user’s motions.

When the user moves, whether to push, pull, rotate, twist, shake or tilt his or her smartphone or tablet, the ad responds in real-time, creating a coordinated seamless interaction that is completely intuitive to the user.

Adtile templates ensure high quality UX

With an HTML5 ad builder, you drag and drop objects. The Motion Store, on the other hand, brings an ‘app-store’ style approach to ad building. Only instead of selecting an app, you’re selecting a sensory Motion Ad template.

So far we have over 200 templates in our Motion Store, and we are adding new ones all the time. Each template is a fully coded, fully designed experience, one built on the Adtile Motion Framework that follows our proprietary design language.

You can customize a template with your own creative and storytelling to create a brand experience unlike anything else that’s out there on mobile.

Adtile templates offer several advantages. They save time by eliminating the countless hours of iteration and experimentation typically associated with complex ad building. We only provide proven templates that we have tested live multiple times and they capture strict design constraints to ensure the highest quality user experiences.

The numbers speak for themselves. Adtile Motion Ads generate on average over 30 percent engagement rates, more than 24 second participation rates, and click-through rates of more than 6 percent.

Motion Ad with tilt up and down detection

Built for a fast-paced programmatic world

HTML5 ad builders are useful for creating simple rich media ads but if you want to add device specific experiences, like animation, you quickly get into custom scripts. And, because HTML5 ad builders aren’t supported by a sensory framework or design guides, adding any type of even primitive motion detection abilities requires extensive manual coding with poor results.

Due to this, building a complex experience with an HTML5 ad builder can take weeks of back and forth and testing, driving up costs.

In contrast, the Motion Store lets anyone create a sophisticated Motion Ad within minutes. Once you’ve finalized your design, the platform generates a responsive HTML5 build for iOS and Android. You can request standard mobile Web or MRAID tags for your ad server, and analytics are baked right in.

True native experience

While HTML5 ad builders let you create rich media ads, Motion Ads are truly native.

Native ads blend in with the organic experience of the app or Web page they appear on but Motion Ads are also built on a native mobile framework.

The Adtile Motion framework takes advantage of the innate sensor technology found in all smartphones and tablets. It incorporates platform agnostic native code and application agnostic design and it delivers a responsive storytelling experience for both iOS and Android.

One or two of those elements alone would contribute towards generating a successful cross-screen ad. But the Adtile framework brings together all four to create a delightful and highly personalized experience for the user.

Solving the entire problem

If you think about it, developing a high quality Motion Ad from the ground up (without our MotionStack), would require a high level of technical expertise. You’d need in-depth knowledge of advanced physics, math, mobile hardware, sensory pretext, sensor fusion, sensor filter techniques, machine learning, interaction design, JavaScript, HTML, and CSS.

You’d also have to grasp iOS and the vast Android device and browser landscape. You’d have to hire a unique mix of software engineers, product people, technologists, designers and mathematicians for the undertaking. And even that won’t guarantee a workable solution.

Fortunately, the Motion Store solves the entire problem for you. For the first time ever, building sensor-enabled mobile creative is seamless, simple to execute, and completely self-service.

Keeping it simple

The reason why Motion Store works and Motion Ads are so successful is due to their simplicity. We strip everything down to create a minimalistic, straightforward approach that makes sense to both the brand creating the ad and the consumer engaging with it.

We realize you can’t remove everything from the brand experience and some Motion Ad designs are inherently more complex than others but we strive always to follow the advice of Albert Einstein who said, “Make everything as simple as possible but no simpler.”

If you haven’t already, we encourage you to check out our Motion Store and find out why simple makes so much sense.

Introducing the Adtile Motion Store

Nils Forsblom
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Introducing the Adtile Motion Store

Movements, gestures, motions and the sensory hardware. That’s the future of programmatic mobile creative, and we want to democratize it. That’s why we created the Adtile Motion Store, a way for virtually anyone to build sophisticated Motion Ads designed specifically for a world on the move.

Captivating Experience to Complement the Hardware

Elegant sensor-enabled Motion Ads are changing the way people think about mobile advertising. No longer is the consumer a trapped, passive observer. Instead, by twisting, tilting, shaking or otherwise playing with the ad—which is more like a tiny app—the consumer becomes part of the creative and device agnostic experience.

Quantity meets Quality

Motion Store makes it possible for anyone to build these delightful yet sophisticated ads on the fly. Modeled after Apple’s App Store, where you go to buy apps, the Motion Store is where you go to choose from hundreds of pre-coded Motion Ad experiences (we are adding more all the time). We’ve designed these templates to include the perfect pairings of design and motion. In all cases, the result is a seamless, natural and engaging end-user experience.

Typically, building a complex rich media mobile ad from scratch can take weeks of back and forth and can cost upwards of tens of thousands of dollars. But the Motion Store allows you to create an ad in literally minutes. No coding is required and the templates eliminate the endless iterations and experimentation so often associated with all rich media mobile ad development.

Creating an ad in the Motion Store is a straightforward process. Select the user experience template you want. Now add your own creative and storytelling. Some customization is possible. You can edit images, text, fonts, transitions, spacing, links and even add video and sound files. When you’re done, you can test out the ad on your phone or tablet.

Introducing the Adtile Motion Store

Once you are satisfied with your ad, Motion Store will automatically generate a responsive HTML5 build for iOS and Android that works on any mobile browser or screen size. You can also request standard mobile web or MRAID tags for your ad server.

Analytics are baked right in. Through your account dashboard, you can view details of your campaign along with a variety of real-time performance metrics, such as unique views, actions, engagement time, engagement rates, and much more. At anytime during your campaign, you can tweak your ad, making adjustments along the way.

How does the Motion Store compare to an HTML5 ad builder? We get that question all the time. The answer: Two completely different animals. An HTML5 ad builder is a simple editing tool that allows you to create ads via drag-and-drop rich media widgets and features. You have to come up with your own custom user experience and design, and adding any type of sensory element requires extensive customization.

On the other hand, the Motion Store is all about ready-made experiences that are based on Adtile’s design guidelines. What’s more, Motion Store ad templates are built on Adtile’s proprietary Motion Technology, which uses sophisticated algorithms to interpret a mobile device’s sensory data and respond with precise dynamic visual feedback.

Check out the Motion Store yourself. If you are interested, contact us and we’ll send you back instructions on how to get started.

Start developing for Motion Store

Mobile DSP? Mobile ad network? Publisher? Do you want to deep integrate your service with Motion Store? Get in touch. We’ll help guide you in the right direction and provide you with additional resources you may need along the way.

How Sensor-Enabled Ads Will Change Mobile Advertising

Nils Forsblom
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How Sensor-Enabled Ads Will Change Mobile Advertising

When it comes to mobile advertising, not a whole lot new has happened in the last five to 10 years. Banner ads and standard full-page interstitials still reign, despite the fact they do little more than disrupt the user experience and leave people feeling annoyed.

The problem is, most of these ads were originally designed for the desktop. They don’t translate well to mobile. Banner ads become smaller and too easy to inadvertently click on. And people resent having their mobile browsers hijacked and taken over by ads.

Next year, mobile ad spend will top $100 billion, according to predictions by eMarketer. If companies want to grab people’s attention in a positive way, they will need mobile ads that offer a uniquely mobile experience. One way to create this type of ad is to tap into the innate intelligence already in most smartphones today.

What Your Phone Knows

Your phone already knows how you are holding it and where you are headed, in what direction and how fast. Your phone even knows when you are holding it up to your face to take a call. This awareness, and more, comes from sensors inside the phone.

Most modern phones are packed with dozens of tiny sensors. The sensors we hear about most include the accelerometer for detecting movement and orientation, the gyroscope for measuring rotation around three axes, a compass to detect magnetic north and a GPS to plot your position on a map. Together, these sensors open the door to a new, refreshing type of mobile advertising.

Ads That Take Two to Tango

you look at what people do on their phones, aside from email and texting, they spend a huge amount of time on apps. People love their mobile apps. They value them for their entertainment and utility. Apps are also seen as nonintrusive. So why not create ads that behave more like apps? If you look at what people do on their phones, aside from email and texting, they spend a huge amount of time on apps. People love their mobile apps. They value them for their entertainment and utility. Apps are also seen as nonintrusive. So why not create ads that behave more like apps?

That is the idea, at least, behind sensor-enabled motion ads. By tapping into the data from smartphone sensors, creating well-defined algorithms, motion ads can engage users in a whole different way. You will be asked to twist, tilt, bend, push, pull, shake, rotate or otherwise play with an ad.

Take for example, a motion ad with an image of a milkshake. The ad is minimalistic and visually beautiful. It asks you to shake your phone to blend your own milkshake. When you do, you get a coupon for the milkshake, which, by the way, you can redeem at the restaurant directly around the corner from where you are standing.

An airline is offering specials on flights from a nearby airport. By rotating your phone left or right, you can view the offers: one to Las Vegas, one to Hawaii and so on. If you see an offer you like, you can tap on it and download a coupon onto Apple Passbook or Google Wallet for purchase immediately or later when you get home.

The key to getting motion ads right is simplicity. A good design speaks for itself. Motion ads also offer a clear value exchange. Instead of having you click through to another website where you have to find the product and put it in a shopping cart, motion ads take care of everything for you in as few steps as possible.

Overcoming the Hurdles

As you might expect, creating motion ads comes with its own set of challenges. Ensuring a completely natural and intuitive experience requires some technical heavy-lifting. For instance, the ad needs to respond to user feedback in real-time. This requires sophisticated machine-learning algorithms that can recognize different types of motion and respond appropriately. Another challenge is creating these complex ads on the fly.

Additionally, so that Motion Ads work on iOS, Android and whatever else is out there, they have to be platform-agnostic. They also have to display on any type of a device or a screen size. To accomplish all of this, ads have to be coded in open source languages (CSS, HTML and JavaScript) and presented in WebViews.

As the world transitions to mobile only, marketers need a new type of premium programmatic mobile ad, one that contributes to positive brand experiences. These capabilities are all available today, as we’ve figured out here at Adtile. It’s now up to marketers to start taking advantage of the new opportunities available in mobile to create ads that establish real human connections because they were designed specifically with mobile in mind.

This article was originally published on AdAge →