What is a sensors?
There are numerous definitions as to what a sensor is but I would like to define a Sensor as an input device which provides an output (signal) with respect to a specific physical quantity (input).
The term “input device” in the definition of a Sensor means that it is part of a bigger system which provides input to a main control system (like a Processor or a Microcontroller).
Another unique definition of a Sensor is as follows: It is a device that converts signals from one energy domain to electrical domain. The definition of the Sensor can be better understood if we take an example in to consideration.
The simplest example of a sensor is an LDR or a Light Dependent Resistor. It is a device, whose resistance varies according to intensity of light it is subjected to. When the light falling on an LDR is more, its resistance becomes very less and when the light is less, well, the resistance of the LDR becomes very high.
We can connect this LDR in a voltage divider (along with other resistor) and check the voltage drop across the LDR. This voltage can be calibrated to the amount of light falling on the LDR. Hence, a Light Sensor.
Now that we have seen what a sensor is, we will proceed further with the classification of Sensors.
The following is a list of different types of sensors that are commonly used in various applications. All these sensors are used for measuring one of the physical properties like Temperature, Resistance, Capacitance, Conduction, Heat Transfer etc.
- Temperature Sensor
- Proximity Sensor
- IR Sensor (Infrared Sensor)
- Pressure Sensor
- Light Sensor
- Ultrasonic Sensor
- Smoke, Gas and Alcohol Sensor
- Touch Sensor
- Color Sensor
- Humidity Sensor
- Position Sensor
- Magnetic Sensor (Hall Effect Sensor)
- Microphone (Sound Sensor)
- Tilt Sensor
- Flow and Level Sensor
- PIR Sensor
- Touch Sensor
- Strain and Weight Sensor
We live in a World of Sensors. You can find different types of Sensors in our homes, offices, cars etc. working to make our lives easier by turning on the lights by detecting our presence, adjusting the room temperature, detect smoke or fire, make us delicious coffee, open garage doors as soon as our car is near the door and many other tasks.
All these and many other automation tasks are possible because of Sensors. Before going in to the details of What is a Sensor, What are the Different Types of Sensors and Applications of these different types of Sensors, we will first take a look at a simple example of an automated system, which is possible because of Sensors (and many other components as well).