Phyphox: Perform physics based experiments from anywhere!

Phyphox: Perform physics based experiments from anywhere!

Image Source:

This week, I want to give a shoutout to a pretty neat application that is available on all android and apple devices called Phyphox. Phyphox is a completely free and very versatile app that essentially turns your smart phone into a mobile laboratory which utilizes many of the sensors in today’s smartphones and tablets. Phyphox was developed at the RWTH Aachen University and so you can imagine that it had students in mind! In fact, the first time I ever encountered this app, was last summer when I was required to perform some basic classical mechanics experiments, record the data and report the results on a weekly basis. Phyphox was both required and essential to getting some of the more basic physics labs done during quarantine.

Direct Screen Cap of the App launching on my tablet
Some of Phyphox’s features. Image Source:

As you can see, there are many possibilities for experimentation, and the only limiting factors are the age of your device and perhaps your surroundings. To get the most out of phyphox, you will want a fairly new device and as few disturbances as possible (sonic,magnetic, electric, etc) around you.

The picture below will give you an idea of all of the experiments that are available to you; You can see that some are greyed out for me, this is simply because my I-pad is about 8 or 9 years old, it is the original I-pad Retina display, so it is lacking some of the required sensors, but is still capable of a wide range of experimentation.

If you have an experiment in mind, then have at it! Otherwise you can find some ideas online, specifically in the experiments section of Phyphox’s website and import them to Phyphox via QR Codes and Bluetooth!

Here is an example of one of the acoustics experiments using my phone’s microphone and various sensors to measure Audio Amplitude as well as sound pressure.

As you can see from the image above, it is as simple as running one of the sensors and recording the data, as if you were recording on your phones’ audio recorder; You may want to read up on specifics so every experiment has relevant information available to you regarding how to go about it. Finally, you can see that there is an “export data” option, which will save the data file as a CSV or Excel file and allow you to open it up using Microsoft Excel or a similar open source program, which you can then write a detailed report on.

Raw data export taken from Phyphox and opened in Excel

Above is from an experiment I performed a year ago, where I measured how energy interacted with a tennis ball bouncing over a certain time interval, and all I needed was a (VERY) quiet room to run the experiment and my tablet’s microphone. Once I had this data, I was able to transfer it into Excel and make a detailed lab report of my findings.

Chances are, if you are a Physics major, then you are already familiar with this program, but seeing as it is free and very accessible, I believe it is a great way to get everyone interested in sating their curiosity of how the world works, and we don’t need pricey setups, just a bit of patience and determination (as it can be tricky to get clean results, though that may have had a lot to do with my older and clunky tablet). So go give Phyphox a look and sate your curiosity!