What is Encoder? Innovation in Motion and Sensing Technology

May 1, 2023 12:20 PM ET

Heard the term “encoder” but never clearly got the answer, but what is it exactly? They have existed since the early 1900s, but digital encoders' development and widespread use began in the 1960s.

Today encoder technology is used in diverse industries, including robotics, solar energy, automation, medical, aerospace, and manufacturing, to improve system performance and accuracy. So, what is encoder, in plain words? A technological device that converts physical motion or position into digital signals

Why, nowadays, are encoders vital in motion and sensing technology? They provide real-time feedback on position, speed, and direction, enabling machines to perform precise movements.

Do you know how encoders work? 

Here is a brief overview. Encoders consist of a sensing element detecting motion or position and an electronic circuit translating the sensing element's signals into digital information. Usually, disks with slots or magnets these elements detect the motion or position of a light source or object. Later the sensor sends electrical signals to an electronic circuit that translates them into digital information.

Types of encoders

There are two types of encoders: absolute and incremental. Absolute encoders provide an exact position reading, while incremental measure movement relative to a reference point.

Real Pros of encoder technology

  • Accuracy and precision - technology provides precise and accurate measurements of motion and position, ensuring that machines move with accuracy and consistency.

  • Durability and reliability - most devices are able to withstand harsh environments and heavy use without losing accuracy or precision.

  • Improved system performance - encoders enable machines to perform complex movements and tasks with greater speed and accuracy, improving system performance and productivity.

  • Compatibility - encoders can be used in various systems, from simple mechanical devices to complex computer-controlled systems, making them versatile and adaptable to different applications.

Wide range industry applications for encoders

Can you use it in your business? Let's take a look at the industries that already implement encoding tech in motion and sensing data: 

Robotics and automation

Encoders are used in robots and automated systems to provide position and movement data to improve computer vision and enable robots to detect and interact with objects.

Medical and healthcare

Encoders are used in medical devices, such as imaging equipment, to provide real-time feedback on position and movement during surgeries or complex health diagnostics.

Aerospace and aviation

Encoders are used in aircraft and aerospace applications to provide accurate measurements of motion and position, ensuring safe and reliable operation, where the stake can be the life of an astronaut.

Manufacturing and assembly

Encoders are used in manufacturing and assembly lines to improve preciseness and productivity. They help detect inefficiencies during product manufacturing and fix them on time.

Automotive and transportation

Encoders are used in vehicles to measure speed, position, and other critical data, improving safety and efficiency. This is crucial fo UAV and autonomous driving technology.

Future of encoders

New encoder technologies, such as optical and magnetic encoders, offer greater accuracy, precision, and durability are emerging. Encoders will continue to play a vital role in various industries, including robotics, automation, medical, and aerospace, as machines become more advanced and complex. 

Just imagine enhanced possibilities for the Internet of Things! Encoders are projected to be essential in the IoT, enabling devices to communicate and interact with each other, providing accurate and precise data for analysis and decision-making.

Encoder selection and maintenance

When selecting an encoder, factors include accuracy, resolution, durability, environmental factors, and cost. To maintain optimal performance, encoders should be regularly cleaned and calibrated, and any issues or malfunctions should be addressed promptly.


Encoders are an essential component of motion and sensing technology, providing accurate and precise data on positioning and movement. With their durability, reliability, and compatibility with a variety of systems, encoders have a significant impact on a range of industries, from robotics and automation to aerospace and aviation. 

By selecting the right encoder, implementing technology into your processes, and maintaining it properly, you can unlock this tech's full potential and improve your systems' performance.



Solar Installers, Manufacturers