What is the first thing that comes to mind when you read the word ‘sensor’? If you are like most people, you think of a high-tech device used in manufacturing, healthcare, etc. You might even think of the high-tech sensors built into military equipment. But what would you say if someone told you that the number of commercial sensors you encounter on a given day is probably too many to count?
Data quantifying the total number of sensors human beings interact with is hard to come by. However, we can step back and just consider all of the electronic devices we encounter throughout the day. Then we can extrapolate to come up with a number.
This post will not go through all of that work, but it will look at some of the more common sensors human beings are routinely exposed to. You are probably aware of all of them.
Your Smartphone GPS
The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines a sensor as “a device that responds to a physical stimulus (such as heat, light, sound, pressure, magnetism, or a particular motion) and transmits a resulting impulse.” As such, the GPS device in your smartphone constitutes a sensor.
Did you ever wonder how Google Maps is capable of warning you about traffic jams? It is possible because every single phone running the Android OS is being tracked through on-board GPS. Google’s computers use the collected data to tell you exactly what to expect as you hit the road.
Your Smart Speaker
If you are among the growing number of U.S. adults who have a smart speaker in the home, you essentially have a box full of sensors sitting on your kitchen counter. Inside that smart speaker are sensors for recognizing your voice and sending commands out over the internet. There are other sensors for activating and deactivating smart devices.
Your TV Remote
Your TV remote and the optical receiver in your television are both sensors, primitive as they might be. Back in the days before such sensors existed, we used to have to operate the television with manual buttons. That meant getting up off the couch and walking over to the TV to change the channel. Then again, there were only three channels back then, so it was no big deal.
Your Motion-Sensitive Lights
Do you have motion-sensitive lights installed on the exterior of your home? If so, they utilize a sensor for detecting motion. That sensor sends out a signal and then measures the time it takes to return. Someone entering this space being monitored by the device interrupts that signal, thus triggering the light to activate.
Your Touchless Faucet
Touchless faucets are all the rage these days, and why not? It is awfully convenient to not have to touch the faucet with dirty hands just to start the water running. Now just move your hand under the faucet and it turns on by itself. How does it do that? With an optical sensor built into the underside of the unit.
The five sensors described in this post do not even begin to scratch the surface. We could list a lot more that are probably found in your home, and that doesn’t even count all the sensors everywhere else. Sensor design companies like Rock West Solutions are creating new sensors for commercial applications almost every week.
Whether you know it or not, we live in a world that is now largely controlled by sensors. There are sensors all around us, doing things for us that would not be possible otherwise. Whether or not that is good is a matter of personal opinion.