Thursday, April 12, 2012

3D transition animation between Activities

I have got a question in this post on the Sfonge site whether it is possible to create a 3D transition effect between two Activities. There is a sample program that does it among the API Demos but this program plays the transition effect between two views of the same Activity. The adaptation to do the same between two activities is not very complicated but has some tricks, that's why I decided to publish this example program.

Click here to access the example program.

First and foremost, I unashamedly stole the custom 3D animation from the API Demos application, that's what you find in It is invoked in the landing Activity (Activity3dTransitionActivity) when the user initates transition to the second Activity (Screen2Activity) using the menu. The trick here is to attach an animation listener to the 3D animation object, start the animation in the outgoing Activity and only invoke startActivity() when the animation finishes. Note the overridePendingTransition( 0,0 ) invocation; this ensures that the system itself will not play any activity transition animation.

The incoming Screen2Activity seems simple but there is hidden gem here too. Observe that the top layout of the activity (in screen2.xml) is not a stock LinearLayout but a descendant (aexp.activity3dtransition.AnimatedLinearLayout). Overriding onMeasure() in this subclass makes sure that the incoming animation is started only after the elements of the layout (a single TextView here) have been laid out.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Stabilizing compass with the accelerometer

Let's explore sensor fusion possibilities of the compass and the accelerometer a bit further. In the previous post we used the compass to calculate the gravity vector when the accelerometer is subject to motion acceleration too. Now let's support the compass with the accelerometer and create a stabilized compass.

As we discussed before, the Earth's magnetic field is a 3D vector which has two components: the horizontal element that points to toward the magnetic North (this is what we use for compass) and the magnetic inclination that has variable degree but points mostly down on the Northern Hemisphere. Now if the magnetic sensor is not parallel to the Earth's surface, the z component (pointing downward) of the Earth's magnetic vector is projected into the x and y axes of the phone's magnetic sensor causing the compass to rotate when the device is tilted. Try for example this great and popular compass application. Point the compass toward the North then tilt the device left and right. You will see that the compass rotates even though the longer axis of the device (the y axis in Android API) still points toward the North Pole.

Click here to read the post further.