A Hall Effect Sensor or a Hall Effect Device is a transducer which varies its output voltage in response to changes in magnetic field. Unlike reed contacts, Hall Effect Devices require amplification circuits and an external power source for operation.
Frequently, a Hall sensor is combined with threshold detection so that it acts as and is called a switch. Commonly seen in industrial applications such as the pictured pneumatic cylinder, they are also used in consumer equipment; for example some computer printers use them to detect missing paper and open covers. They can also be used in computer keyboards, an application that requires ultra-high reliability. Another use of a Hall Sensor is in the creation of MIDI organ pedal-boards, where the movement of a 'key' on the pedal-board is translated as an on/off switch via Hall Sensors.
Hall sensors are commonly used to time the speed of wheels and shafts, such as for internal combustion engine ignition timing, tachometers and anti-lock braking systems. They are used in brushless DC electric motors to detect the position of the permanent magnet. In the pictured wheel with two equally spaced magnets, the voltage from the sensor will peak twice for each revolution. This arrangement is commonly used to regulate the speed of disk drives.