Android Sensor transformation to world coordinate system


The sensor values returned by Android are with respective to the phone's coordinate system (e.g. +Y points towards the top of the phone). We can transform these sensor values into a world coordinate system (e.g. +Y points towards magnetic North, tangential to the ground) using the sensor managers rotation matrix

First, you would need to declare and initialize the matrices/arrays where data will be stored (you can do this in the onCreate method, for example):

float[] accelerometerData = new float[3];
float[] accelerometerWorldData = new float[3];
float[] gravityData = new float[3];
float[] magneticData = new float[3];
float[] rotationMatrix = new float[9];

Next, we need to detect changes in sensor values, store them into the corresponding arrays (if we want to use them later/elsewhere), then calculate the rotation matrix and resulting transformation into world coordinates:

public void onSensorChanged(SensorEvent event) {
    sensor = event.sensor;
    int i = sensor.getType();

    if (i == Sensor.TYPE_ACCELEROMETER) {
        accelerometerData = event.values;
    } else if (i == Sensor.TYPE_GRAVITY) {
        gravityData = event.values;
    } else if (i == Sensor.TYPE_MAGNETIC) {
        magneticData = event.values;

    //Calculate rotation matrix from gravity and magnetic sensor data
    SensorManager.getRotationMatrix(rotationMatrix, null, gravityData, magneticData);

    //World coordinate system transformation for acceleration
    accelerometerWorldData[0] = rotationMatrix[0] * accelerometerData[0] + rotationMatrix[1] * accelerometerData[1] + rotationMatrix[2] * accelerometerData[2];
    accelerometerWorldData[1] = rotationMatrix[3] * accelerometerData[0] + rotationMatrix[4] * accelerometerData[1] + rotationMatrix[5] * accelerometerData[2];
    accelerometerWorldData[2] = rotationMatrix[6] * accelerometerData[0] + rotationMatrix[7] * accelerometerData[1] + rotationMatrix[8] * accelerometerData[2];