I am looking into making a "smart floor" that can detect when someone steps down onto it. I have done some research and found that the most commonly used sensors are 1) Pressure sensitive floor tiles 2) Electric Field sensors and 3) Vibration sensors.

The pressure sensitive tiles are pretty obvious but i'm not sure what sensors they are using. do they mean piezoelectric floor tiles? I haven't really been able to find help on how i would build one or if there are any commercially available to purchase where i can go to buy them

The Electric field sensors work by measuring changes in electric field when someone is present in the room. I am not sure exactly how but from what i read it seems like you are just stepping on a parallel plate capacitor and measuring the change in the capacitance to determine the amount of pressure.

Vibration sensors came up in my research and i assume they used microphones to detect the peoples steps.

The application: It will need to detect the presence of a person (and preferably location in the room, but not strictly necessary). It can (hopefully) detect more than one person and estimate how many people are in the room. It's main purpose will be at night where there will be less people walking through the room and people walking less frequently. The room is not huge but not tiny either, probably the size of a typical bedroom. The floor is hard, like marble.

I don't have a set budget but i do want to keep it somewhat reasonable, obviously.

  • \$\begingroup\$ So, an occupancy sensor doesn't work for some reason? \$\endgroup\$ – Samuel Jul 16 '15 at 21:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ What are you primarily trying to establish with your project? \$\endgroup\$ – Andy aka Jul 16 '15 at 21:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Samuel, no an occupancy sensor wont work \$\endgroup\$ – user2237160 Jul 16 '15 at 21:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Andyaka, it's for home automation purposes, but i want it done through the floor because i can't mount things on walls. \$\endgroup\$ – user2237160 Jul 16 '15 at 21:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ You haven't answered my question. What specifically are you trying to record, measure or log with sensors. \$\endgroup\$ – Andy aka Jul 16 '15 at 22:12

You seem to have three answers to your title question in the first paragraph of your question. To answer the only remaining question, "do they mean piezoelectric floor tiles?", maybe. This project used force sensitive resistors.

A much cheaper solution to your highly restrictive situation is to use an accelerometer embedded in the floor. You'll have to test it on site to determine the threshold of acceleration (floor vibrations) that will count as a person in the room. It's slightly more socially acceptable than placing a microphone in the room and then telling people "don't worry, it's not recording your conversations."


Pressure-sensing floors usually use piezoelectric sensors. Most often they are designed as a floating floor with square tiles on top, where each tile is supported by pressure sensors (e.g. load cells) located in the corners of the tile. Another widespread design is using carpets with embedded piezoelectric sensors.

Localisation of people on this type of floors is possible, with a precision proportional to the number of sensors per area unit. Some commercial products include floors by Tarkett and SensFloor.

You can find more information about sensing floors on Wikipedia.


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