This is an archived course. A more recent version may be available at


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 3 hours / session

Course Goals

The overall goal of this course is for students to attain a broad familiarity with many different sensors useful in a broad definition of "HCI" (Human-Computer Interaction)

  • Develop judgment of what sensors and modalities are appropriate for different applications
  • Know how to electronically condition the sensor, hook it up to a microcomputer, and process the signal (at least basically)
  • Have some idea of how/where these sensors were used before
  • Have a reasonable idea of how different sensors work
  • Develop a sense for recognizing bad data and an intuition of how to resolve problems


Amazon logo Fraden, J. Handbook of Modern Sensors: Physics, Designs, and Applications. 4th edition. Springer, 2010. ISBN: 9781441964656. [Preview with Google Books] (3rd edition also OK)

Amazon logo Horowitz, P., and W. Hill. The Art of Electronics. 2nd edition. Cambridge University Press, 1989. ISBN: 9780521370950. [Preview with Google Books]

Readings in these books will be complemented by auxiliary references in other books, magazines, and Web sites.

Coursework and Grading

This course combines lecture and lab-based instruction. Students are required to complete several problem sets and labs, and a project due at the end of the term with a final report and in-class presentation.


Problem sets 30%
Final project 30%
Lab performance 30%
Attendance, participation and reading 10%


1 Introduction; basic sensor-related electronics and signal conditioning

Lab 1 out
PS 1 out

2 Electronics (cont.)

PS 1 due
PS 2 out
Lab 1 due

3 Electronics (cont.)

PS 2 due
Lab 2 out

4 Pressure and force Lab 2 due
5 Pressure, strain and piezoelectrics PS 3 out
6 Electric field and capacitive sensing PS 3 due
7 Capacitive applications and magnetic sensing

Lab 3 due
PS/Lab 4 out

8 Optical sensing PS/Lab 4 due
9 Inertial sensing  
10 Acoustic and thermal sensing  
11 Digital sensor processing and modules Project proposals due
12 Bioelectric sensing and related topics  
13 Final project presentations