What can I use to recognize if a surface in touched or not? What kind of sensor I need to do this?

I want to detect if an object is on the table or the object touch and go out.

I'm using Arduino board.

Any idea?

Edit: My object is a ball and my surface is a 4 person kitchen wood table.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Vision system?? \$\endgroup\$
    – kenny
    May 20, 2011 at 13:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you can connect something to it a capacitive sensor could work. \$\endgroup\$ May 20, 2011 at 13:17
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ The answer depends on some factors: is the object metallic? How much it weights? How much you're able to modify the table to achieve this? Do you want to track multiple objects that are placed and removed from the table, or you want just to know if there's any object or not? \$\endgroup\$
    – fceconel
    May 20, 2011 at 16:05
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Please, be more specific as @fceconel said. \$\endgroup\$ May 20, 2011 at 16:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/1253/… \$\endgroup\$
    – endolith
    May 20, 2011 at 18:27

2 Answers 2


Arduino has a Capsense library. If your object is not metallic then it can be the perfect answer. Its cheap and easy to make too. You just need two arduino pins, few high value registers,aluminum foil and some capacitors.

This thing works on the principle that the aluminum foil works as a capacitor and combined with resistor it charges in time equal to the RC time constant. You send a signal to one of the pin and wait to get the signal of second pin. As a human being starts to put their hand close to it the time constant changes and you can detect that see if a human being is near by.

Here is a link to the arduino library.

EDIT Sorry I think I was hasty in posting. This is only applicable if you are detecting humans or anything that imitates human skin.


I assume the ball is somewhat lightweight (like a beachball), so sensing pressure is not an option. In this case, I'd recommend to place ultrasonic transducers at the corners of the table. When the ball is on, it will reflect some of the sound waves back to the transducer. Take a look at:



  • \$\begingroup\$ Ok, I already have a Ultrasonic sensor. I'll try... \$\endgroup\$
    – elp
    May 27, 2011 at 15:19

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