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Introduction to Various Types of Sensors

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Before working with sensors on any project, we must know its usage, advantages, limitations and characteristics. There are various parameters on which various types of sensors are chosen for any particular application like cost, size, weight, resolution, sensitivity, etc.

In this article, we would be going through various types of sensors in details along with various sensor types available in the market like:

Position Sensor

It is a type of sensor that can detect the object movements and converts them into signals suitable for processing, transmission, or control.

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Typical applications for position sensor is in computer game joysticks, steering wheels, industrial and robot applications.

Potentiometers (Potentiometric sensors)

Potentiometric sensors are used to measure the electrical potential of an electrode while no current is flowing through it. They are a type of chemical sensor.


An encoder is a simple device that can output a digital signal for each small portion of a movement.

There are two types of encoders available in the market

  1. Linear Encoder
  2. Relay Encoder

Linear Enocers measure straight-line motion and Relay Encoders measure rotational movement.

These are generally used for monitoring or controlling motion parameters such as speed, rate, direction, distance, or position.

Displacement Sensor

A displacement sensor (displacement gauge) is a sensor used to measure the distance between a reference position and a specific object.

It is primary use is for dimension measurement of an object’s width, height, and thickness.

Velocity Sensor

A velocity or speed sensor measures consecutive position measurements at known intervals and computes the time rate of change in the position values.

They are generally used in gas turbines and mid-size pumps. These sensors can detect high-frequency vibration signals in turbine/compressor vanes, defective roller or ball bearings, noise in gears, etc.


A tachometer is an instrument that measures the rotational speed of a shaft or disk in a motor or other machine. It generally measures revolutions per minute (RPMs) of engines and is widely used in automobiles, airplanes, marine engineering field and many others.

Acceleration Sensor

An accelerometer is an electromechanical device that measures acceleration forces.

The forces may be static or dynamic. If you have the amount of static acceleration due to gravity, you can find out the angle the device is tilted at, with respect to the earth’s surface. If you have the amount of dynamic acceleration, you can analyse the way the device is moving.

Force and Pressure Sensor

A pressure sensor is a device that senses pressure & converts it into an electric signal with respect to the pressure applied.

Force and pressure sensors are generally used for industrial purposes.

Torque Sensor

A Torque Sensor is a transducer that converts a torsional mechanical input into an electrical output signal.

Torque sensors are generally used in Automobile industries.

Touch and Tactile Sensor

Touch and tactile sensor are devices which measures the parameters of a contract between the sensor and an object. This interaction obtained is confined to a small defined region.

Tactile sensors are mostly used in Smartphones for touch capabilities. They are used in robotics, computer hardware and security systems.

Proximity Sensor

It is a sensor that is able to detect nearby objects with the help of electromagnetic field emission or a beam of electromagnetic radiation without having any physical contact.

One of the applications of Proximity sensors is they are mostly used in smartphones for turning of the display when you bring your phone closer to your ear for a talk.

Given below is a slideshow tutorial on various types of sensors:

This article was first published on 4 October 2017 and was updated on 8 June 2020.


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