When sitting up last night watching the WWDC 2010 conference where the new Apple gadget was introduced, I was astounded at a single new feature of the iPhone4 that has the potential to improve the safety and enjoyment of flying aircraft, big and small.
The iPhone 4 add a three-axis gyroscope for measuring angular velocity. It can figure out pitch, roll, and yaw; and rotation about gravity. The gyroscope plus the accelerometer provide six-axis motion sensing, and remember it also has a built in compass and 12 channel GPS. Lo and behold - it can even make phone calls!!
Within weeks you will see the first apps appearing, transforming your iPhone4 to a complete fully functioning, highly reliable and accurate ND / Artificial Horizon, utilizing a WorldWide terrain database and using GPS positioning to give you complete Synthetic Vision with Terrain View and Obstacle Warning.
The existing iPhone (3, 3G & 3GS) uses accelerometer sensing only, and is therefore completely useless to measure anything other than what is up and down when attached to an object in a steady state. As you saw for yourself - completely useless for an aircraft in motion. The big news with the iPhone4 is that it has an ACTUAL 3-axis gyroscope (most probably a l@ser ring-giro, even though they are not saying yet) built in. A completely different beast altogether, and now completely useful as a device to measure attitude for an object in motion, such as an airplane in flight.
Location: Boldly going where no split infinitive has gone before..
Now, if they put that technology into the next generation I Pad, you would have the potential for just about a full function EFIS as an emergency back-up, or for Ultralights. It would also be great in a glider providing Vario/glide computer funtions, with the possibility of having a back-ap AH in case on "Inadvertent" cloud penertration.
Hope they have improved the crap Assisted GPS. Pretty much useless unless you have 3g reception.
Actually, that is incorrect. Assisted GPS is in fact superior to regular GPS in that you will acquire a position quicker without the need to re-initialize the GPS if it has bee moved while turned off. The "assistance" in this context is that it uses Mobile network and selected WiFi transmissions to provide initial positioning.
If you have a device, such as a mobile phone - not functioning well in an environment where you do not receive 3G, such as on board an aircraft - you need to look at other explanations for why you do not receive a good GPS signal.
I have used mobile phones with Assisted GPS more than 2000 miles away from the nearest mobile phone tower, and provided you do not shield the GPS signal - they work like a treat, except you need to provide it with some initial co-ordinates to speed up acquisition if the phone has been moved while turned off.
And Gyro - thanks for the info
More likely a tuning fork type device
and that link. I am sure you are right - I pulled the l@ser giro thingamajig assertion out of my arse, in a fit of excitement. Very impressive functionality though, regardless of what makes it tick