Potentiometer are variable resistors. Traditional potentiometers use a mechanical mechanism to vary the resistance. This is a digital potentiometer - it is a variable resistor whose resistance vale can be varied digitally from an Arduino or a Rasberry Pi. It consists of a 3 pin output which can replace a mechanical potentiometer which has 3 pins and lets you vary its resistance digitally! This digital potentiometer can also store the current position after a power off in non volatile memory and start from the same position on power on.
Potentiometers are incredibly useful, whether you’re controlling the volume on your stereo, the ‘mood lighting’ in your room, speed of a DC Motor, etc. The problem with traditional potentiometers is the fact that your microcontroller doesn’t have an easy way to interface with them. Digital Potentiometers solve that problem by allowing you to control a voltage splitter with digital signals.
Wire it up just like a potentiometer and use signals to ‘turn the knob.’ Another handy feature of digital potentiometers is that because they aren’t controlled mechanically, they don’t have a pre-determined sweep profile.In other words, depending on the way you write your code the potentiometer can ‘sweep’ in a linear fashion, a logarithmic fashion, or according to any other profile you like. Digital potentiometers can also be used in conjunction with rotary encoders to consolidate large banks of potentiometers into one ‘smart’ rotary control.